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PLEASE RETUBN THIS BOOK 

TO ITS PLACE .^f'^'^'^ii^ 

i WHEN FINISHED WITH 




^^^ * \^' BO NOT TURN DOWN 
•^ • .^^^ HMY OF 




THE LEAVES OF THIS BOOK. 



V / 



TAKES AT THE FLOOD 



^ 'gobti LC; 



BT THE AUTHOB OF 

**LADr AUDLEY'S SEOEET/' "MOHAWKS/' 

STO. ETO. 



Stcxcot^pcb SMtlon 



LOKDON: 
SIMPKIN, MAESHALL, HAMILTON, KENT & CO., 

LIMITED, 

STATIONERS' HALL COUBT 

1891. 

iJU rightt reterved.'] 



4 



RCZ7g^^ 



\ 



■21 



MISS BRADDON'S NOVELS. 



Now BbADT at AUi BOOKSILURia^ iVD BoOKITALLi^ 

Pmoi 2t. 6d. BAOH, Oloth gilt. 

THE AUTHOR'S AUTOGBAPH EDITION 
OF MISS BBADDON'S NOVELS. 



•* Ho one can be dull who has • mrrel bj IOm Bnddon in hand, 
rbo most tiresoine jooraey to beguiled, and the moat wearlaome 
illneeB to brightened, bgr any one of her booka." 

**MiaB P ra ditMi li the Queen of the dvoolaltiig Ubmlea.* 

Sftelfbrli. 

LONDOHt 

8IMPEIN & CO., LixiTiiH 

BTATioMSBflf Hall OoubSi 



f lis |(oM is ^t'iiioiit'h 

TO 

WILLIAM FREDERIC TILLOTSON, ESQ. 

(PBOPKIBTOB 07 " THE BOLTOK WBEKLT JOVBlTAIi")* 

Axn> TO 

TnE OTHEB NEWSPAPER PBOPBIETOBS 

FOB WHOM THB WORK WAS WBITTEV. 



4 



CONTENTS. 



^♦- 



JBLAP. 

I. Fathkb ahd Daucihtbe • • • • 

II. BVMUHD StANDBN . . , « • 

III. In Mb. Hoplinq*8 Obohabd • • • 
lY. Bldid Man's Bufv . . . • • 
V. How IT Cahb to Pass .... 
YI. Mbs. Standen and hsb Soh hayi a raw Woidb 

VIL DXB MENSOH DBNKT 

VIII. GoTT Lbnkt 

IX. Stlyia AT Hoxb . . . • • 
X. A HUIOLIATINO BEjfeonoK . • • 

XI. Sib Aitbbbt is Intbbestbd . • • 
XIL His Intbbest Dbbfens . . • • 
XIII. An UNiNYirxD Gvbst • * t • 
XrV. Ybblobbn 1ST Vbbloabm .... 
XV. ''Alas t ovb Lips abb hxld so vab Apabt" 
XVL "So TouNO AND so Uhtkndbb" 
XVII. "Pabt Now, Pabt Wbll, Pabt Widb Apabt" 

XVIII. Febbiah Plaob 

XIX. "Loyb, TH017 ABT Lbading Mb fboh Wintbt Colo *' 
XX. ''Faib as thb Fibst that Fell up Wohankxnd" 
XXI. "Shb is Woman, thebefobb to bb Won" 
XXII. ''In soke, Ambition is thb Chibv Oonobbh" 
' XXIIL Mbs. Standen is Inoonsistbnt . . • 
XXIV. Sib Aubbbt's Land Stbwabd • 

XXV. Mattbbs Financial 

XXVI. Mb. Bain pleads the Cause op the Widow 
XXVII. Thb Stbwabd in the Bosom of his FAMiLr 
XXVIII. Thb Thbbshold of Fate .... 
XXIX. " I sigh the laok of many a Thing I sougbi 
XXZ. ^'VMmoj^B Passing 9«ll*' . • « % 



wMom 
7 

15 

25 

86 

iO 

47 

58 

69 

68 

66 

69 

78 

79 

84 

98 

96 

102 

105 

110 

117 

123 

130 

188 

145 

150 

160 

168 

178 

188 



I Oontenis. 

XXXI. Thi Alob thav Blooms but Ohob .... 194 

XXXIL *'A UsBLESs Lira is an Bablt Death'' . .199 

XXXm. "Thou look*st so likb what onob was Minb" . 205 

XXXiy. *'So Faib a Form Lodgbd not a Mind so III** . 210 

XXXV. Striokbk Down 214 

XXXVI. Lady Pxrbiam BBQAflBS a Sick Nubsb , . 222 

CXXVII. Dr. Crow's Opinion 227 

;XXVIII. The Heir of Ferbiam 235 

XXXIX. Mr. Bain makes himselp IJdBFuii . . . . 241 

XL. The Grass Withereth, thb Flower Fadbth . . 246 

XLI. Stlyia asks a Question 252 

XLII. Startling News for Mb. Bain .... 260 

XLIII. Oh, yert Gloqmt is the House of Woe . . 266 

XLIV. " I DO BELIEYB TOU J AND I KNOW YoU TrUE " . 273 

, XLV. Mr. Bain is Puzzled . . .... .280 

XLVI. Stlyia Writbs a Lettbb. . . . . . 285 

XLVII. ''The Faults of Loyb bt Loyb are Justified" . 290 
XLVIII. Stlyia Triumphs . . . . . . .298 

XLIX. <*MoRB Bitter than Death'' . ... 800 

L. Stlyia is Disappointed 806 

LI. Eandom Shots • • 809 

LII. The Friend of the Mbntallt Afflictkd • . 318 
LIU. Secret as thb Grayb . . ... . . 322 

LIV. The Masteb Passion . . . • ^ 327 

LV. Mr. Bain is Worsted . . . . ... 334 

LVI. "Either I'll be tht Slayb or iht Dbstroybb" . 339 
JiVII. "Ah 1 Loyb, mt Hope is Swooning in mt Hbart" 345 
LVIII. Shadrach Bain Loses thb Scent ... . . 350 

LIX. Secret Seryicb . . • . . . .355 

LX. "Just Impediment" 860 

LXI. At Bat . . .366 

T^TTT, Who said " Let Death comb Now ! 'tis Bight to 

Dnsl" . . . . ..... 372 

LXni. A VOTAOB OF DiSCOYBRT 876 

LXIV. Mr. Ledlamb's Patient ..... 381 

LXV. " It is thb Tale which angrt Conscikncb -Tells " 387 

LXVI. Sir Aubret's Beturn 396 

LXVII. " Since there's no Help, come let us Kiss ai.-d 

Part " . . . . . ... 408 

IiXYIII. Loyb is Enough . . . • ... 408 

I<XIX. FiYB Ybabs Latbb . • ..... 411 

laXX. The Purplb Light of Loyb f « « , * • 4^9 



TAKEN AT THE FLOOD 



OHAFTEB I. 

VATHEB ASD DAITGHSEJI. 



Deep in the ffreen heart of one of the most pastoral sliires in 
England nestled the village of Hedingham. It was a billy 
country, and Hedingham lay at the bottom of an irregalar 
basin, nor in all the parish conld you have found half-a-dozen 
acres of level around. Orchards — and the Hedingham orchards 
were many and glorious — gardens, meadows, patches of common 
land were all hill and hollow, as if a storm-tossed ocean had 
suddenly been transformed into solid earth. Curious must 
have been those volcanic convulsions which resulted finally in 
Hedingham. Geologists had their various theories on the 
subject, but the He£ngham people troubled themselves not at 
idl thereupon. So . long as dierries and applies ripened in the 
orchards sloping to the southern sun, or fronting the later glory 
of the west--so long as all went well in farmyard and bam, 
piggeries and hen-coops, Hedingham was content. 

It was a prosperous-looking, well-kept village, important 
enough to blossom into a town perchance by-and-by, under 
favouring circumstances. Sir Aubrey Perriam, who owned the 
greater part of the land hereabouts, was a rich man, and if not 
% liberal landlord, at least a strict one. The plaster walls of all 
the Hedingham cottages were as white as frequent whitewash 
could make them. Tne fences and gates of Hedingham knew 
not dilapidation. In Sir Aubrey's absence — and he was very 
often absent from the vast and gloomy pile which called him 
master — his steward's keen eye overlooKcd Hedingham, and 
seemed ubiquitous as the eye of Providence itself. Kothing 
ever escaped that searchiuff gaze^ and thus dirt and disorder 
seemed unknown at Hedingham. j 



8 Talcen at ihe Flood. 

There was no pleasanter spot than this village of Hedingham 
on a snmmer's day. Through the village street there ran a 
broad swift stream, into whose clear current horses seemed ^lad 
to plunge their tired limbs, and the very sight and sound of 
which refreshed the exhausted pedestrian. One might write a 
chapter about the green lanes that surrounded Hedingham, and 
the far-spreading curtain of shade afforded by fine old chestnuts 
anji elms, which gave a park-like aspect to the meadows here- 
abouts, the Hedingham farmers havmg happily not yet been 
awakened to the necessity of stubbing up every decent tree on 
their land. 

This green and fertile village was not far from tlie barren sea. 
From the summit of yonder hill, now golden with gorse and 
broom, the eye might sweep across another fair vaUey to the 
wide expanse of ocean. In this West of England the very sea- 
shore is verdant, and the rich wealth of the land seems cumost 
to run over into the water. 

Look at Hedingham this evening, by the low light of the 
setting sun, sinking gloriously behind that dense screen of yew 
and cypress on the western side of the churchyard. The first 
scene of this drama opens in a garden only divided from the 
churchyard by a low stone wall and a thick hedge of neatly 
trimmed yew, which rises tall and dark above the gray stone — 
the garden of the village school. Mr. Carew, the schoolmaster, 
says it is a hard thing to live so near the churchyard, and to 
look out of one's window the first thing every morning upon 
crumbling old headstones, skulls and crossbones ; but then Mr. 
Carew is a gentleman not prone to take life pleasantly. A 
painter could hardly imagine anything more picturesque than 
that old Norman church, to whose massive walls and stout 
square townf time has given such rich variety of hue; that 
spacious churchyard with its different levels, its sombre old 
trees, and its crumbling mausoleums, through whose loosened 
stonework the sinuous ivy creeps at will, a green, living thing 
pushing its fresh growth into the secret chambers of decay. 

James Carew nas no eye for the picturesque, or it may be 
that though the picture is fair to look upon, he may have had 
just a little too much of it. For fifteen years he has been 
schoolmaster at Hedingham. He has seen the boys he taught 
when he first assumed that office grow into men, and marry, 
and rear sons of their own for him to teach. He is grinding 
tlie elements of knowledge into a second generatian, and in afl 
those fifteen years his own life has grown no whit brighter. 
The passage of time has not profited him so much as an increase 
of five pounds a ^eax to his scanty wage. I4fpig service counts 
for very little with the authorities of Hedmgham. Lideed,* 
^liere are some who grudge JTamaB- Oarew his meagre stipendt 



Father and Daughter. 

and begin to wonder whether the parish schoolmaster is not 
getting past his work. 

Still, there has been one change in those fifteen years — a 
ehange which wonld have brightened life for some men, althongh 
James Carew has been indinerent to it. His only ^nghter — 
his only child, indeed — has grown from a child to a woman. 
She was a plnmp, fair-haired lassie of five years old when he 
brought her to this quiet home. She is now a woman, and_ the 
acknowledged beauty of Hedingham. She m^ht reign by the 
same right divine in a much larger place than Hedingham, for 
it would be hard to find rarer b^uty than that of Sylvia Oarew. 

She stands by the rustic garden gate in the sunset, talking to 
her father, dressed in a well- washed lavender muslin and a pkin 
black straw hat, peerlessly beautifuL Perhaps the greatest 
attraction of her beauty lies in its rarity. She follows no 
common type of loveliness; her placid beauty recalls the form 
and colouring of an old Venetian picture. The features are 
classic in their delicate regularity. The nose, straight and finely 
chiselled, the upper lip short, the mouth a cupid's bow, but the 
lips somewhat— -the veriest trifle — ^thinner than they should be 
for perfection ; the chin short, round, and dimpled, the forehead 
low and broad, the shape of the face an ovaL 

The colourinff is more striking. Sylvia is exquisitely fair — 
that alabaster mimess — with no more bloom than the neart of 
a blush rose — which is in itself almost sufficient for beauty. 
But this complexion, which by itself might be an insipid loveli- 
ness, is relieved by eyes of darkest, deepest hazel; that liquid 
brown which the V enetian masters knew so well how to pamt ; 
eyes of surpassing softness, of incomparable beauty. Her hair 
is of a much paler shade, yet a shade of the same colour. But 
h^re the rich warm brown has a tinge of reddish gold, and 
female critics aver that Sylvia has red hair. They do not deny 
her beauty. That is beyond criticism. They merely allege the 
fact. Sylvia's hair is red. " Miss Oarew is pleasant and soft- 
spoken enough," says Miss Bordock, the baker's daughter, '* but 
I never did &ust no one with red hair. They're a'most always 
double-faced." Whether Sylvia was double-fEused or not time 
must show. 

Her father stood beside her at the wooden gate^ a newspaper 
in his hand. There was little resemblance between them, and 
one could see that if Sylvia inherited her beauty from any 
mortal progenitor it must have been to the maternal line she 
was indebted. Mr. Carew had a hooked nose, a somewhat 
receding chin, and faded gray eyes which may have once been 
blue and brigh^ He had a worn look, as of premature age, 
and one could imagine him the ill-preserved ruin of a good- 
looking man. His dress was slovenly, but the t^xe^a \:i»xiL %afiii ^ 



10 Taken ai the Mood. 

taper fingers, the small foot, the general air and bearing, were 
those of a man who, whatever he might be now, had once 
writt^ himself down gentleman. 

"Where are yon going, child P" he asked, in a tone that was 
almost a complaint. ^ It*s strange that jon mnst be ahrays 
gadding just at the time that I am at leisure." 

" You don't seem to care particularly about my company, 
papa, if I do stay at home," replied Sylvia coolly. They were 
not a very affectionate father and daughter. ** And it s dull 
indoors on such an evening as this. One might as well be in 
that ivy-grown old tomb of the de Bossineys yonder, and one's 
life over and done with." 

" You might read the newspaper to me at least, and spare my 
poor old eyes a little. They're tried hard enough all day." 

'* Other people are almost youn^ at fifty, papa. Why is it 
that you seem so old P " asked the girl, in a speculative tone, as 
if she were considering a fact in natural history. 

** Compare my life — for the last fifteen years — with the lives 
of other people, and you won't be so foolish as to repeat your 
question, Sylvia. I should feel young enough and seem young 
enough, too, I daresay, if I were as rich as Sir Aubrey Pemam.' 

The father sighed and the daughter echoed his sigh, as if 
the veij mention of the lord of the soil were provocative of 
melancholy thought. 

" Yes, it must be a grand thing to be rich," said Sylvia^ 
" especially for people who have had some experience of poverty. 
Those people who are bom rich seem to have a very dim idea of 
the enjoyment they might get out of their money. They 
dawdle through life in a sleepy sort of way, and fritter away 
their wealth upon a herd of servants, and on some great uglv 
house, in whicn they are little more than a cypher. Kow, u 1 
were rich, the world would hardly be big enough for me. I'd 
roam from country to country. I'd climb mountains that no 
one ever climbed before. I'd make my name famous in half-a- 
dozen different ways. I'd " breakmg down with a sudden 

siffh, . " but I daresay I never shall be anything but a village 
schoolmaster's daughter, or a village schoolmistress, so it's 
worse than foolish to talk of happiness or riches." 

The hazel eyes had brightened while she talked of what she 
vould do with wealth. They were clouded now ; and she looked 
at the rosy light beyond tnat dark screen of cypress, with a 
fece that was full of gloomy thought — strangely beautiful even 
in its gloom, though with a sinister beauty. 
. " You need not be a village schoolmistress unless you are a 

S eater simpleton than I take you to be," said her father, who 
d been in no maimer disturbed by her rhapsody. He had 
Pinfolded his newspaper while she was spealong — a London 



Father and Daughter. 11 

paper willed i«ached this remote world at sunset. ^' With yonr 
good looks you are bound to make a sood marnage." 

" What, at Hedingham P" cried S^via, with a scornful laugh. 
** Prajt who is the wandering Prince who is to find me at Hed- 
intifhamP I'm afraid princes^ of that kind only exist in fairy 

^ITonsense, Sjlvia. Every pretty woman has her chance if 
she has but patience to wait for it, but ten out of every dozen 
wreck themswves by marrying scamps or paupers before they 
are out of Aeir teens. I hope you, Sylvia, have too much 
sense to make that kind of mistake.*' 

** I hope so," Jiaid Sylvia; "indeed, I mean to be prudence 
itself, and wait for the I^rince. Have I not drained the cup of 
poverty to the very dregs P Believe me, papa, I don't want to 
wear washed-out gowns and last summer's bonnets quite all my 
life." 

Bhe looked down at her faded muslin contemptuously, as she 
spoke. She had all the feminine longing for bnght colours and 
fashionably-made dresses — ^though the finest shops she knew 
were those in Monkhampton, i£e neighbouring market town, 
and the best dressed women she had ever seen were the Miss 
Toynbees, the retired woollen manufacturer's daughters, who, 
it was faintly rumoured, had once had dresses straight £rom 
Paris. 

" Bv the way," she resumed presently, after a pause, " talk- 
ing 01 good marriages, I wonder if you would call Mr. Standen 
a good match for any one. I am not speaking of myself, of 
course." 

," I'm glad you're not," retorted her father sharply, bat with- 
out lifting his eyes from the newspaper, "for Edmund Standen 
would be a very bad match for you. His father, the banker, 
left every acre and every sixpence he had to leave to his widow 
— for her to dispose of as she thinks best; and her son is en- 
tirely at her mercy. He's an only son, you'll say, and to whom 
else could she leave her money. She might leave it to her mar- 
ried daughter, Mrs. Sargent ; and depend upon it she will leave 
it to the daughter if the son offends her." 

" By a fooush marriage, for instance." 

•*By marrying any one she disapproves of. And she's a 
starched madam, and will be uncommonly hard to please. I 
daresay she means him for that little girl who lives with her — 
Miss — Miss Eochdale." 

Sylvia shrugged her shoulders, and made a wry face, as if 
Miss Eiochdale were a very inferior order of being. 

" I shouldn't think he would ever marry her," she said, " even 
to please his mother, whom, I believe, he worships. In tH 
first place her name is Esther. Fancy any one falling; iiL Iqh^ 



12 Taken at the Flood. 



with an Esther — and in the next place she's dowdy to a degree 
that is next door to ugliness." 

"IVe never taken particular notice of her/* replied Mr. 
Carew, " bnt I believe she has money. Her father was in the 
Indian Civil Service — a judge, or something of that kind. 
She was bom in Bengal, and sent over to the Standens when 
she was three or four years old — the mother was some relation 
of Mrs. Standen's, I think. And after toiling and money- 
scraping out in Calcutta for twenty years, Mr. Eochdale died 
on tne eve of his return — the common close of an Indian career 
— leaving his daughter well provided for." 

" I wish you hfS gone to India, papa." 

" To die there 1 Thanks for so affectionate a wish." 

"No, no, of course I don't mean that," answered the girl 
somewhat lightly, as if it were a matter of detail. " But I do 
wish you had found some position more fitted to your talents — 
for I know you are very clever — even at the other end of the 
world. So many men strike out paths for themselves — begin 
life with so few chances and end in the loftiest stations. I have 
read the biographies of such men, and never without wondering 
how you could tamely submit to endure the life you have led 
here, to waste your keen intellect in the drudgery of a village 
school, for fifteen long useless years." 

She spoke with a suppressed passion in her tone, for there 
were times when she felt undutifully angry at the thought of 
her father's ignominious career. Not so easily would she have 
submitted to a life of obscurity, had Heaven made her a man. 

" The men you read of may have started in life with one 
(qualification which I did not possess when I began my career 
in this place," said her father coldly, still without looking from 
the newspaper. 

" What qualification P " she asked eagerly. 

** Never mind what. Enough that I am what I am. Why 
seek to pry into the secrets of a life that holds no ray of hope P 
You say you know that I have talents. If you do know that you 
must know that I should not have endured such a life as this 
could I have put those talents to better use. I did not begin 
the world as a village schoolmaster. The life you have seen is 
only the miserable remnant of an earlier existence." 

" And that was a little brighter, was it not, papa P " 

" Yes, child, that was pleasant enough while it lasted." 

" And what was the misfortune which altered your dream- 
stances P" 

" You have asked me that question before to-day, Sylvia, and 
£ have told you that the past is a subject I do not wish to talk 
about. Be Kind enough to remember that in future." 

The girl gave a discontented sigh, but said nothing. 



Father and Daughter. 18 

"You liave not answered mvy qnestion^" said her fatLer. 
•* Where are yoti going P " 

" Only for a walk in the lanes with Alice Cook and Maiy 
Peter." 

" I wonder yon can care about associating with a sezton'd 
daughter, and a dressmaker." 

" Have I anybody else to associate with, papa P "What would 
the young ladies of Hedingham think if I aspired to their com- 

Fmy P Why, I daresay they expect me to drop a curtsy when 
meet them, like the school children." She drew herself up 
to her fullest height and looked like an outraged queen, at the 
very idea of these p^^le's insolence. Then in a more indifferent 
tone she went on, " You don't suppose I care for Alice or Mary. 
But t hey 're better than nobody, and they think a great deal of 
me. What is that you told me Caesar said — ^better to reign iu 
a village than serve in Bome. I'd rather have such friends as 
those, who look up to me, than be asked to tea in a patronis* 
ing way by the Vicar's daughters, who din the school into my 
ears all iJie evening. Mary teUs me about the fashions, and 
helps me a little when I have a new dress to make for myself. 
It isn't often I trouble her. And Alice is a harmless creature 
enough, and takes no liberties. Besides I could hardly walk 
about alone." 

" No," said her father, with a glance at the fair face. ** That 
wouldn't do. Perhaps you're right. Better to have them than 
no one. Be sure you're not late." 

** I'll take care, papa. We're going to talk over the arrange- 
ments for to-morrow." 

"For to-morrow P " 

" The school treat, papa* You haven't forgotten, surely P " 

"To be sure. Yes, the children's tea, and the fancy fair 
in Harper's field. The place will be in a fine hubbub, I sup- 
pose." 

" We're to have the band from Monkhampton, and they sav 
there are lots of people coming ; county people," added the girl. 
" We don't often nave a glimpse of the world at Hedingham ; " 
and then, with a profound sigh, " I daresay the dresses will be 
lovely. And think of my poor last year's muslin, which has 
grown ever so much too short for me.' 

"You've grown, I suppose you mean," said her father. 
" You needn't be so doleful about it. New dresses don't make 
good looks, and no man whose opinion is worth having values a 
woman for her gown. It's only you women who appraise one 
another's clothes, and sit in judgment upon one another's 
bonnets." 

" Yes, papa, but it's hard to bear scornful looks, and to feel 
the stamp of poverty branded on one's back. I'm suiq "L 



14 Taken at the Mood. 

wouldn'l. mind how I x>moh6d or scraped indoors. Td eat dry 
bread and diink water if I could only make a decent appearance 
before the world." 

" Ahy that's a woman's notion of comfort," said Mr. Oarew, 
contemptnonsly. He was particular about what he ate; his 
eomfortoible little six o'clock dinner was the one bright spot 
in his day. The babble and turmoil of the school were over» 
the door shut upon those awful boys whom he loathed with an 
unspeakable loathing, the table laid neatly in the shady parlour. 
A cutlet or a chicken, a littie dish of fruit, a salad, and a 
tumbler of cheap claret sufficed him; but even this modest m&Mk 
cost money whidi might have been spared for Sylvia's wardrobe, 
had the schoolmaster been content to eat boiled bacon and beans 
like his neighbours. 

Two shrill voices sounded in the still air, and two girls 
emerged fi*om the shadows of the cypress and yew, and came 
by the narrow churchyard path towards the gate of Mr. Oarew's 
garden ; two commonplace looking damsels enough it must be 
confessed ; but fresh-complexioned and frank-looking, and with 
a pleasant air of the countrv about them." 

"Well, Sylvia!" cried Mary Peter, the elder of the two, 
** have you been waiting for usr " 

" Not very long — ^besides I've been talking to papa — it didn't 
matter." 

** I had the dresses to finish for the Miss Toynbees. I wish I 
cruldhave kept them up at my place to show you, but the 
lady's maid did fidget so. She's b^n round three times since 
dinner, so I sent ^m as soon as ever I'd set the last stitch, 
and all I hope is the boy won't tumble them. Such loves of 
dresses, Sylvia. However, youll see them to-morrow, so it's 
all the same. Olear white grenadine, with blue satin quillings, 
and blue silk slips, and such lace — ^real Valenciennes, and 
seven shillings a yard if it was a penny. The maid seemed 
afraid I should eat some of it, she was so sharp. I daresay 
she'll go over every inch with a yard measure." 

Mr. Oarew had retreated before this babble about dress- 
making. He had not even troubled himself to respond to the 
timid salutations of the two damsels. But, for similar dis- 
courtesy, Hedingham had long ago set him down as a proud 
and unMendly individual. A ^ood master enough for those 
rude, rough boys, who trembled at his frown; but a person 
whose acquaintance nobody cared to cultivate. Yet thejowned 
that, allhough unpolite, he had the air and bearing of a gentle- 
man, and that his discourtesy seemed son^etimes deer iibsenee 
of mind. He had seen better days, said the Hedinghatnites, 
and his temper had been soured by reverse of fortune. Haymsr 
come to this condusion, his simple-minded neighbours pitiea 



Ihther and Daughter. 15 

liim, and flbowed wliat kmdness they ooold to Ins pretij 
dan^ter. 

"Uome, Sylyia,*' said Alice Cooky '^it inH be dark before 
Wye had our walk." 



GKAFTEB IL 

XSICUKB STAKDBK. 

It was in the very flnsh of snmmer, the ripe, rich month uf 
July. The last of the hay had been carried, ont tangled ynsj)a 
of sweet-scented grass stiU hung here and there on the bram- 
bles of the dog-roses, in the narrow lanes, where the wagons 
had been hard pnshed to pass between Inznriant boundaries of 
sloe and blackberry, wild rose, and woodbine. This particular 
July had begun with almost tropical splendour. The thermo- 
meter (there was only one in the village, by the way, at the 
post-office and chemist's shop) had been at eighty for the last 
week, and even after sunset there was a sultry neat like the 
atmosphere of a hothouse, an atmosphere sweetened with the 
spicy odour of pine trees and clove carnations, the perfdme of 
bean fields, and the sweet-pea hedges that bri&^htened cottage 
gardens. For an utterly idle existence — the lite of those pigs 
for instance which lay flat on their sides on the patch of ^rass 
before the farmyard gate, and simply revelled in the sunshme— 
Hedingham in a hot summer was a most delicious place, a very 
valley of sensuous delights. But for the majority of mankind 
who had to work hard, this weather was a trifle too warm. The 
feimers looked across the fields of yellowing com and thanked 
God for tiiiis liberal sunslune. The farmer's men wiped the 
drops of toil from their sunburnt foreheads, and languished for 
a double allowance of cider. Happy those whose work lay on 
the hpl tops whence they could gaze on the wide, cool sea. 
Happier still, or so it seemed to tne landsmen, the fishermen 
yonder far out upon the bine, whose brown sails flapped lazily 
m the fiunt summer wind. 

The three girls went along one of the lane8» till they came to 
a meadow on the slope of a hill — a meadow which contained 
some of the finest trees about Hedingham. Here they seated 
themselves on a grassy bank at the foot of a giant horse chest* 
nntr-a bank famous for primroses in spring time— not without 
som e j esting insinuations from Sylvia's companions. 

"We know why Sylvia is so fond of 'tliis fidd, don't wo, 
Alice P" said Mary, jocosely, whereupon Alice, who was not 
loquacious, nodded and giggled inanely. 



( 



16 Taken at the Mood* 

** I don't know that I like it better than any other meadow,** 
retnmed Sylvia with an indifferent air. " If I do it is for the 
shade of this chestnut, and because we can catch a glimpse of 
the sea over the tree tops yonder." 

I' I thought you didn't care for the woods, or the sea, or any- 
thing about Hedingham," said Mary. 

" I don't very much. I've had too much of it all — ^trees and 
flowers that are the same every year, and woods and sea that 
haven't changed since the Heptarchy. But if we walk we must 
walk somewhere, and if we sit down to rest it must be some* 
where, and this meadow does as well as any other place." 

" And we know some one who always can find us here," said 
Mary; after which remark came a sort of giggling duet between 
Miss Oarew's companions. 

Sylvia felt that her father was right, and that she ought not 
to associate with these girls. 

"I wish you wouldn't be so vulgar, Mary Peter," she ex- 
claimed angrily ; " some one, indeed. I suppose you mean Mr. 
Standen, smce he's the only person we ever met here." 

" I didn't know it was vulgar to speak of one's friend's beau," 
said Mary, wounded; "but you've such high notions. Miss 
Garew. I sometimes think it's a pity you should associate with 
me and Alice " 

" 1 sometimes think so too," answered Sylvia, nothing moved. 
It would have cost her very little to break with these com- 
panions of her childhood. Her feelings on the subject of femi- 
nine friendships were not deep. 

She had a way of being insolent to these girls, and then 
passing over the matter lightly, as if she had a right to be as 
rude as she pleased; and they, influenced by her superlative 
beauty, and her superior education — she had educated herself for 
the most part, but knew a good deal more than many better 
taught girls of her ace — suffered her airs and graces with ex- 
treme patience. She had an air of bein^ only half alive in their 
presence, which was in no means flattering to their self-esteem. 
She leaned back against the broad base of the chestnut and 
closed her languid eyelids, and only answered with a listless 
word or two now and then, while her companions discussed the 
programme for to-morrow's gala. 

It was to be altogether a grand day for Hedin^ham. There 
was to be the children's treat, buns and tea, and plum-cake, and 
such rustic sports as kiss-in-the-ring and thread-my-needle, in 
Mr. Hopling's orchard, one of the finest orchards round Hed- 
ingham. Tnis was an annual festival, but even repetition did 
not stale its simple joys. This year there was to be something 
more tiian iiie cmldren's tea-drinking. The Hedingham school 
house was ancients smalli inconvenient^ and out of repair, and 



Edmund Standen. 

Mr. Vanconrt, the Vicar, was trying to tolleoib fands for the ef 
tion of new boildings of the Gothic order. There had bee 
already some small movements in aid of this ^ood work, and 
now tne Miss Yanconrts and their numerous friends and allies 
had organised a fancy fair, or charity bazaar, to which all the 
county, so far as the mflnence of Hedin^ham conld make itself 
felt. Lad been bidden. All the most distinguished young ladies 
of the neighbourhood^ that is to say, those whose fathers had 
either money or position, were to keep stalls. The various 
treasures of fierlin-wool work, wax-flowers, point lace pincushion- 
covers and banner screens, teapot stands, slippers, wax-dolls, 
smoking-caps, babies' shoes, braces, work-bags, shavinff-doyleys, 
match-boxes, pinafores, and cigar-cases, which had been pre- 
pared by the mdustrious fingers of the Hedingham and Monk- 
nampton young ladies, were said to be stupendous in effect, uow 
that they were massed together at the vicarage. The bazaar 
was to be held in Mr. Harper's field, which adjoined Mr. Hop- 
ling's orchard, so that benevolently disposed people, after spend- 
ing tiieir money among the pink-striped booths, could walk into 
the orchard and behold the future recipients of their bounty. 
They would see the school children at their best, apple-cheeked, 
joyous, radiant with the lustre of bread and butter and plum- 
caie, and they would be stimulated to give liberally. Thus, no 
doubt, had argued the organisers of the entertainment. 

" They say there's people coming from twenty miles round," 
said Mary Peter, after much disquisition upon to-morrow's pro- 
ceedings; '* county families. There's never been such a day in 
Hedingham since I can remember." 

" And you can remember thirty years, I should think," re- 
marked Sylvia without opening her eyes. 

This was meant unlandly, for Miss Peter affected youth. 
Yet every one knew that it was nine or ten years since she 
had finisned her apprenticeship to Miss Speedwell, of Monk- 
hampton. 

" Father heard tell that Sir Aubrey was to be there," said 
Alice Cook, with some sense of importance. It was something 
to have a father who heard the news direct from the Yicar, aftei 
week-day Bervice. 

Sylvia opened her eyes. Everybody in this place was inte- 
rested in Sir Aubrey Perriam, though he was only a quiet elderly 
gentleman, who spent a good deal of his time abroad, and, when 
he was at home, hved a humdrum kind of life at Perriam Place, 
with no better society than that of his brother, an invalid and 
a bookworm. Sir Aubrey was seen in Hedingham village, now 
and then, when he was at The Place, but the younger brother 
hardly ever. But, according to report, this younger brother, 
Ms rerriamt never went away, but dawdled on teir^^A^^^sc^^ 



18 Ibken at the Flood. 

to year's end alone witH his books. No one at HedingBa^ 
thought or talked of Mr. Ferriam. Sir Auhrey was a sui: 
whose magnitude extinguished all lesser lights. 

" I thought Sir Aubrey was in Paris," said Sylvia, 

"So he was last week," replied Alice. •* Father had it from 
the housekeeper at Perriam — but he was expected home soon^ 
and this morning, while he was taking off his sorplioe, Mr. 
Yancourt told fauier that Sir Aubrey had come, and nad pro- 
mised to be at the bazaar to-morrow." 

" I should like to see him," said Sylvia. 

" Haven't you never seen him P" asked Alice, with more em* 
phasis than grammar. 

" Never." 

" Oh, I've seen him ever so many times," said Mary Peter, 
with enthusiasm. " He's a noble looking old gentleman. I 
think you'd know he was a baronet if you saw him anywheres, 
without being told. He dresses beautifal — such taste — and 
holds hlmseli so straight, and speaks so low and smooth — not 
like most of our county gentle-folks, which bawls awful, as if 
they was speaking to somebody on the other side of the road — 
and then he has such a dear silver-gra^ moustache, just the 
colour of that dress I made for Mrs. faker, for Miss Baker's 
wedding." 

"And what is his brother, Mr. Perriam, likeP" enquired 
Sylvia. 

" Oh, nobody ever sets eyes on Mr. Perriam, except the ser- 
vants at The Place, and they sav he's eccentrical and slovenly 
like in hi& ways — never puts on boots — and hardly ever wears a 
coat, and hates new clotnes. But I have heard Mrs. Spicer, the 
liousekeeper, say — she's second cousin to my Aunt Susan's hus- 
band's brother's wife, so you may call her a relation — ^that Mr. 
Perriam and his brother would be as like as two peas if he only 
dressed himself decently." 

Sylvia sighed. She had ceased to feel interested in the con* 
versation. What were these Perriams to her P Only two old 
fogies, whose wealth made her enviously minded whenever she 
thought of it. That crimson globe she had been watching had 
gone down behind the patch of blue sea yonder, and she had 
promised her father to be home before it was dark. The dark- 
ness would soon follow that red splendour on the horizon line, 
and it was not solely to enjoy Alice Cook's and Mary Peter's 
conversation that Miss Oarew had come here to-night. 

" Gome, Maiy," she said lisUeBslyy ** I suppose we had better 
be going home. 

•* What's your hnrry P ** asked Marv. 

** Papa told me to be home before dark.** 

" O.ooBnebirou're not generoUy so partfaokraboiityaiirfiillitff* 



Edmund Standen. 19 

BendeSy iVs not q^oite dark till ten o'clock at this time of ^ year ; 
and wlio knows if some one migbWt liappen to come this way 
who'd be ever so sorry to miss yon." 

** Quite right, Miss Peter, and ver7 kindly snggested," said a 
pleasant, manly voice, from the other side of uie bank. The 
oranches rustled as two strong arms parted tiiem, and a yonng 
man stepped lightly down from the higher level of the copse 
behind tne ches&nt. 

Sylvia started to her feet, a wild-rose bloom brightening her 
&ce, her eyes sparkling, almost a new creature — animated with 
sudden joy, and hope, and triumph. Yet she spoke never a 
word, but only held put her little bare hand by way of welcome. 

The new-comer shook -hands all round, but wiui Sylvia last, 
and kept her hand in his, as if he had forgotten to let it go. 

*' I tnought, perhaps, vou mi^ht be coming this way for yoni 
evening w^k, Mr. StEinden," said Maiy Peter, urged thereto by 
an^ impulse of good manners, since nobody else said anything. 
AHce Cook could never do much more than giggle; and Sylvia 
and Mr. Standen stood and looked at eacn other as if they 
never meant to speak again. Indeed, could eyes always be as 
eloquent, there would seem little need of language. 

" It was very considerate of you to think about me at all," 
said Mr. Standen, without withdrawing his gaze from Sylvia's. 
The^ stood face to fsuse under the spreading chestnut boughs, 
looking at each other as if there were no world beyond ^at 
oirde of shadow, no time beyond this July sunset. *' I always 
do come kere for my eveiii£g walk, and iometimes I find t4 
meadow very dreary, while sometimes it seems a little bit of 
Eden, as it does to-night," he added, in a lower tone, tightening 
his clasp of Sjrlvia's hand. 

" Well, Sylvia," said Mary, in her business-like tone, " I think, 
■8 mother may be wanting her bit of supper — it is but a morsel 
of cheese and a lettuce she takes, but she likes things nice and 
tidy — I'll run home. You can come back with me, Alice, and I 
daresay Mr. Standen will take care of Sylvia. Good-bye, 
Sylvia. We shall see you before twelve to-morrow." 

The two girls curtsied a good night to the gentleman ana 
■ped off, as u this were part of an established programme. 

They had scarcely turned their backs ere Sylvia was clasped 
to her lover^s breast. The fair head rested placidly upon nis 
■houlder, the soft hazel eyes looked up at him, full of tender- 
ness. Plighted lovers these, it would seem, by his calm air of 
inroprietorship, her look of perfect trust. 

^ My Sylvia I " he said, as if a world of meaning were shut 
within the compass of those two words. 

''Yon are so late this evening, Edmundf** she said oom« 
pkiningly. 



20 Taken at the Flood. 

''We liad friends dimng witli us, darling; I couldn't get 
awaj. Even now I liave left the men to smoke their cigars and 
play Billiards alone — at the risk of offending them — for the sake 
of one sweet half-honr with you. How lovely you look to-night, 
Sylvia, with that sunset tinge upon your hair !" 

" Do you really like it P she asked, pleased by his praise. 
* The girls call it red." A shower of kisses on the bright 
auburn hair answered for the lover's estimation of its pecuSai 
colour. ** But I'm sorry you're so late, Edmund, for papa told 
me to be home early." 

" You must cheat papa out of half an hour for my sake» 
Sylvia. I have something to tell you." 

''What!" she cried eagerly, and with a half-frightened look. 
♦' Have you told Mrs. StandenP" 

"Yes, Sylvia," he answered gravely, "I have told my 
mother." 

"Oh !" exclaimed the girl with a gasp, as if this were just 
the most awful thing in the world. " ^d how did she take 
itP" 

" Why, not so well as I could have wished. Let's sit down 
here, darling, under our old chestnut, and I'll iell you all about 
it." He released her from the arms which had enfolded her till 
now, and they sat down side by side, her head still resting on 
his shoulder, one hand clasped m his, as if this loving contact 
might soften the stem decree of fate, in the person of Mrs. 
Standen, on whose fiat the future lives of these two in a great 
measure depended. 

" Was she very angry P" Sylvia asked falteringly. 

The young man was silent for a few moments, looking down- 
ward, ms good-looking honest face clouded. It was both good 
and ^ood-lookinff, that face of Edmund Standen's, the feakires 
sufficiently regular, the forehead broad and ample, the eyes a 
dear gray, the complexion tanned somewhat by sun and wmd — 
a country gentleman's complexion — the mouth good, and, despite 
ihe shade of a thick, brown moustache, full of expression. 

" Am I to be quite frank with you, Sylvia : am I to tell you 
the truth, however disagreeable, even at the risk of making you 
dislike my mother P" 

"What does it matter what I think of your mother?" ex 
claimed Sylvia, impatiently. " It is ourselves we have to think 
about. Tell me the whole truth, of course. She was angry, I 
suppose P " 

•* xes, dear, more angry than I had ever seen her till that 
moment; more angry than I should have thought it possible 
•he could be." 

" What a low, vulgar creature I .must seem to her," said Sylvia, 
bitterly. 



Edmund Standem. 21 

^ My sweetest, she knows tliat you are nothing of the kind. 
1 have told her, and she has heara others praise you, and she 
has seen you herself. It was no snch thought inflnenced her. 
Bat she had formed other plans, I suppose, and this engagement 
of mine disappointed her. She has always been used to think 
of me as a boy, ready and willing to be ruled by her opinions ; 
for yon know now dearly I love her, Sylvia." 

'* I have heard you say so a thousand times," said Sylvia, 
wiih something like scorn. 

'' Yesterday she discovered for the first time that I had a will 
of my own, a heart that was no longer all hers, a mind that 
could, think for itself, and my own plans for my own future. 
She was both grieved and ang^iy. My heart oled for her, 
though I felt for the first time in my life that she was in the 
wvong, that the mother I have loved so dearly could coaimit a 
great injustice." 

" If you would only come to the point," exclaimed Syltpa, 
impatiently; " what did she say about our marriage?" 

*' That she would never give her consent to it. I was com- 
pelled to remind her that I am a man, and my own master." 

"Well, what then?" 

" • Marry Miss Carew if you like,* she said, * and break my 
heart, if you like. But if you do I shall leave everything I 
possess to your sister Ellen and her children.' " 

" And she ooidd do that?" asked Sylvia, trembling with in- 
dignation. 

** Most decidedly. She is mistress of everything my father 
had to leave. My future, so far as regards my father's fortune^ 
is entirely at her mercy." 

** How unjust — how wicked !" cried Sylvia. 

" It does seem rather hard," said the young man regretfully i 
"yet there never was a better mother than mine. And the 
money was left to her to do what she likes with, afber all. She 
has as good a right to leave it to Ellen as to me." 

"She has no such right; your father intended it for you,** 
■aid Syl^, almost choking with passion. 

She might have been even more angry had Edmund Standen 
repeated to her one particular speech or his mother's— ^a si>eech 
which had impressed itself indelibly on the tablet of his mind. 

" I will stand between you and ruin, if I can, even if I seem 
cruel and unjust in doing so. Whatever influence, whatever 
power I have shall be used to the uttermost to prevent your 
marriage with Sylvia Carew." 

"Because she is my inferior in social position?" asked the 
yoxmg man angrUy. " As if such petty distinctions counted for 
Viytmng except in a benighted villafle like Hedingham 1 " ^ 

" For no such reason*" answef^d W9. 8t«n4«ii|^\)ia\» ibok^ 



22 Takm mi ike FlootL 

because slie is vain and liollow» selfish and ariftiL .1 wish my 
dear son to marry a good woman." 

And she flung npon him a look of maternal tenderness that 
would have melted any one but a headstrong lover. 

"What right have you to say that of her P— yon, who have 
seen her hal^a-dozen tmies at most," he cried incugnantly. 

" I have seen quite enough to judge — and I have hea^ still 



more." 



" Petty village gossip. The women hate her on account of 
her beauty." 

" And you love her for the sake of her beauty, and for no- 
thing else. Beware of such love, Edmund." 

" Upon m^ word, mother, you are too bad," cried the son, and 
he left her without another word — ^banging the door bdiind him. 
The passion of anger would hurt us more than it does if there 
were no doors to bang. 

Yet in his heart of hearts he knew that he did love Sylvia 
chiefly for the sake of that rare beauty which had dawned upon 
him uke the revelation of a new life, two short months ago» 
when he came home from Grermany, and saw the girl standmg 
in the afternoon sunshine in one of the side aisles in Heding* 
ham church, clad in purest white, a blossom-like creature among 
the ruddy-cheeked and buxom Hedingham girls, many of whom 
had a full share of vulgar, every-day good looks. Even to- 
night, as he came to the trysting tree, ne was compelled to con- 
fess to himself, in the course ot that self-examination to which 
all thoughtful men submit their motives, that it was Sylvia's 
face that had bewitched him. Of her mind he knew very little, 
beyond the one fact that she loved him; and knowing that, 
he seemed to know all that was needful. She was refined and 
intelligent, expressed herself like a lady, read all the books he 
lent her, and was able to criticise them somewhat sharply. She 
had taught herself French and ^ German with very httle help 
from her father. She played with taste and expression on a 
feeble oldpiano, which a former vicar's wife had given her, on 
leaving Hedingham; and she sang better than she played. 
What more could a man desire in a wife than to love and be 
beloved by her, save to be proud of her P And Edmund Standen 
felt that this was a wife of whom a better man than he might 
be proud. For, after all, this gift of beauty which philosophy 
affects to undeirate — although Socrates did admire Aspasia — ^is 
a great and perfect thing, and more certain of social success than 
any other quality. It needs no assertion on the part of its pos- 
sessor, it asks no aid itom renown. It is there — obvious, indis- 
putable, and the world beholds and worships. Kor is it more 
ephemeral than any other species of fame. Those names of 
women which stand out most vividly on the historic page, are the 



Mdmuni Standen. £8 

JiMJues Oi women wlio were simply famous for their beauty. This 
argument occnrred to Edmund Standen to-night as he walked up 
the hilL After all, what reason had he to be ashamed of loying 
Sylyia Carew chiefly because of her loveliness. "Pericles, 
Caesar, Antony, were all made of the same clay/' he said to 

himself. ** Each fdl in love with the loveliest woman of his age." 

• •••••• 

" Well,'* said Sylvia, after a long^h pause, " of course there 
is no more to be said. Our dream is ended. All we have to do 
is to bid each other good-bye." 

Her tones faltered, a little, and there were tears in her eyes : 
yet she pronounced this renunciation of her lover with a calm- 
ness curious in one so young. 

" Bid each other good-bye !" he repeated, astonished. " Why, 
Sylvia, do you think I can give you upP" 

" I think you could never be so mad as to let your mother 
make you a pauper, which it seems she has the power to do," 
said Sylvia, in whom anger at this moment was stronger than 
love. 

" My mother shall not make me a pauper, and she shall not 
rob me of you," said Edmund, drawing her closer to his side. 

She did not look up at him, but sat with eyes bent upon the 
ffround, and a settled gloom upon her face. For her, this for- 
feiture of fortune meant so much. It meant the end of all her 
day-dreams. But she loved him as fondly as it was in her 
nature to love; and that nature had its depths of passion, 
though those depths were yet unsounded. 

" But she can rob you of your father's fortune," she said. 

" Let it go," answered her lover lightly. " I can exist with- 
out it. I am not afraid of beginning the world, Sylvia, for you 
and with vou. I think I could fight and conquer fate with you 
for my helpmate." 

" What could you do P" she asked thoughtfully. 

'* Go to the Bar. It would be slow womc, of course, at first; 
but I might pick up a little by literature, perhaps, or in some 
of the by-ways of life. Or if, on taking counsel with my friends, 
I found the ^Bar was likely to be too slow a business, I might 
get a clerkship and go into commerce. I am young, and not 
afraid of worK. It would be hard if I couldn't earn a living 
somehow." 

^ A Hving^-— earning a living somehow I And Sylvia had fan- 
cied that in winning Edmund Standen's love sne had opened 
the door to that bright, pleasant, prosperous, easy-going world, 
in which everybody nad plenty of money — ^that when he made 
her his wife she was to bid an everlasting farewell to the 
scrimped means of the vulgar herd who have to maintain tboo 
•elves by labour of brain cft body* 



24 Taken at the Mood. 

** And then, <3arling," continued her lover tenderly, •* happily 
for onr early straggles you have not been bred in an extravagant 
school, or accustomed to costly pleasures. It will not seem very 
hard to you, will it, Sylvia, if we have to begin life humbly P" 

Not seem hard, when her rebellious spirit had been aii war 
with her surroundings ever since she had been old enough to 
compare the lives of other people with her own life I 

*' It's all very well to talk hke that," she said, bursting into 
tears, " but you don't know what poverty is." 

Yes, this cheerful resignation to reverse of fortune is easy to 
the mind that has never known necessity's venomed stin^. It 
is like the ignorant courage of a child who PO'TS his first visit to 
the dentist, rather pleased at the novelty of tne situation. 

" My dear love, even poverty would lie no burden if you and 
I shared it. Besides, we shan't always be poor. Look at the 
hundreds of prosperous men who begin the world with a single 
half-crown." 

" Look at my father," she answered briefly. 

He kissed away her tears, and, circled thus by his protecting 
arm, she half believed that the li^ht of true love might suffice 
to gild the pathwajr of life. But it was only half-belief at best. 
Lurking in her mind there was the conviction that she had 
suffered too much already from straitened means, and had 
no courage for that battle which Edmund Standen faced so 
calmly. 

" How much is your father's fortune?" she asked. 

" My mother's, you mean, darling." 

"I only look upon it as hers in trust. How much is it, 
Edmund P" 

"Something like' fifteen hundred a year — rather over than 
under. Then there is the house, and about forty acres of land, 
and my mother's savings, which must be considerable ; for I 
don't think she can have spent a thousand a year since my 
father's death." 

" And you would give up all that for my sake, Edmund P " 
asked Sylvia, deeply moved. 

" Every shilling of it, and with hardly a pang." 

" Oh, how good and true you are, and how dearly I love you!" 
cried the girl, quite overcome at last by this evidence of devo« 
tion. 

The moon stole up from behind the eastward woods, and 
surprised them into memory of the hour. They went back to 
Hedingham through the silent fields and lanes, arm in arm, and 
Sylvia almost for^t the gloomy outlook that had newly opened 
before her in the happiness of bein? so utterly beloved. 

•* To-morrow your father and wl Hedingham shall know of 
\ our engagement, Sylvia," said Mr. Standen, as they paused in 



Xdmund Sianden. 25 

ilie shadowy churclijarcl path — that path across the chnrchyard 
was the nearest way to the school-house-^for those last words 
which lovers ai*e so long saying. 

" No, not to-morrow," she pleaded, " there will be such talk, 
and snch surprise, and so many people will take yonr mother*s 
part against us. Let ns keep oar secret a little longer, dear 
Edmund." 

And dear Edmund, who was not in a condition to refuse any- 
thing, reluctantly consented to some small delay, wondering a 
little at the subtle ways of women, to whom there seems sweet- 
ness ta secresy. 



CHAPTER IIL 

IN MB. HGFLINO'S OECHABD. 

There were many coloured flags flattering in the sunshine, and 
the braying of a brazen band in Hedingham by noontide on the 
festival day; a combination which to the inhabitants seemed 
all that this world can give of splendour and excitement. The 
tents glimmered whitely througn the leafage of the elms that 
screened Mr. Harper's meadow. The tea-tables were already 
ranged under the old apple trees in Mr. Hopling's orchard, 
where ruddy cherries and young green apples contrasted 
pleasantly with the more sombre tints of the foliage. Very few 
of those ripe cherries would remain to Mr. Hopling after set of 
sun ; but a man must do something for his parish, and Mr. 
Hopling was a native of Hedingham, who had made money as a 
butcher in Monkhampton, and retired to his ancestral fields a 
wealthy man. That orchard had belonged to his great-grand- 
father, and represented his patrimonial estate, and Mr. Hopling 
was beyond measure proud of it. He liked to be asked for the 
loan of it for the school feast; he liked to think that withoat 
his aid the children could hardly have had their tea-drinking 
at all ; and he endured the loss of his cherries with calm mag- 
nanimity, having taken care to thin the fruit as much as he 
could before this annual festival The trees were ever so old 
and gnarled, and crooked, and encrosted with a pale sea-green 
parasitical growth, which was bom of the salt breeze that 
«wept over that tranquil valley, as if Amphitrite herself had 
'J^reathed her wet arms around those rugged old trunks and 
sinuous old branches. 

Whei«ver a flag could be stuck conveniently, or inconveniently, 
A flag appeared; and those patohei oi U^^Vi ^fvxoc)^k^^ ^r^^\aL^ 



26 Taken at ike Itooi. 

showed briglitlj against the cool green of the Terdnie^ or the 
warmer bine of the doadless snmmer sky. 

People were congratulating one another upon the splendonr 
of the day — " So Tacky, when it might have taken a tnm this 
yery dayt after such a long spell of heat and dry weather." 
There had been a short service in the old church — the only cool 
resort in Hedingham on such a day ; for those solid walls and 
deeply recessed windows admitted little sunshine, while the 
dense black-green of cypress and yew cooled the eye that 
wandered to the prospect outside the open casements. At two 
o'clock the children were to march in procession to the orchard { 
at two o'clock the fancy fair was to begin. The county people 
would arrive a good deal later no doubt, for it would be beneath 
jounty people to be early. The Monkhampton people, less 
exalted, and more eager for amusement, were likely to assemble 
much sooner than Burke's lauded gentry. Already the Heding- 
ham damsels were decking their stalls, running to and fro-^ 
chattering, giggling- interchanging small secrets and delicate 
insinuations — admiring one another's dresses, all new for the 
occasion. What a variety of pink, and blue, and peach, and 
cheny colour, and primrose! Sylvia's soul sickened as she 
watched them from the orchard gate, where she was waiting for 
the coming of the children— those tiresome, perspiriug girls and 
boys, whom it was her duty to keep in order and amuse — at the 
risk of being lamed for life by their hobnailed boots. 

" And I am to be poor always," she said to herself with a 
sigh, as she contemplated those bright, fresh dresses in the field. 
There were the white grenadines Mary Peter had made for 
the Miss Toynbees ; spare and somewhat angular damsels who 
seemed all grenadine flounces and blue satin quilling. 

"They look as if they were dressed for a ball," thought 
Sylvia. " What a dowdy creature I must seem beside them. 
Ajid Mrs. Standen will be here, I suppose, to stare at me with 
those odious, cold blue eyes." 

Mrs. Standen, her arch enemy, whose injustice had dashed 
the cup of hope and joy from her lips. Gould she be mortal 
and not detest Mrs. Standen P She was altogether mortal, and 
she hated her lover's mother most heartily. 

Dress has so strong a hold upon a girl's mind, especially upon 
a girl bred in a village, that in the contemplation of her better- 
dad sisters, Sylvia for the moment forgot her own beauty. She 
forgot that she started with an advantage which all the arts of 
miUinery could not counterbalance. She had dressed herself in 
white — a plain white muslin gown, with no embellishment save 
a narrow frill of lace round the throat, with no vestige of 
L eoloured ribbon to contrast its purity. She had laid aside her 
uiatf for she was to be ia the shady orchard all day, and a hat 



lit J&. Ropling*% Orchard. 27 

would have been only an encnmbrance. She wore no gloves, for 
her hands were to be busy by-and-by cntting cake and biead- 
and'bntter. The golden glory of her auburn hair crowned her 
head, and gave her a nobler air than any coronet that was ever 
fashioned by the jeweller. She had the art of twisting the long 
massive plaits — which would have transformed her into Goethe's 
Margaret at once, had she let them hang down — into a perfect 
coronal surmounting the ivory forehead, and giving added height 
to a form that was already tall. 

** What a gawk that ^1 looks in her long, straight gown ! ** 
said Miss Toynbee to Miss Palmer, the doctor's daughter — "and 
she's as vain as a peacock — gets herself up to attract attention. 
See what a lot she s made of her hair ! " 

"Audit's as red as it well can be,'* replied Miss Palmer. 
''But the gentlemen all admire her. I suppose it's because she 
looks like one of those horrid pre-Baphaehte pictures," added 
the youn^ lady, who had no enthusiasm for art. 

A rustic beauty who does not know her position is apt to be 
a stumblihg-blocK in the way of young ladies of standmg like 
the Miss Toynbees ; and there was a prevailing idea in Heding- 
ham that Miss Garew did not know ner position. In the first 

Slace, she was a ^eat deal too pretty for a village schoolmaster's 
aughter. It mi^ht be argued that for this she was hardly re- 
rnsible. But the Hedingham young ladies complained that 
made too much of her prettmess, set herself up as a lady, 
and drew upon herself the attention of mankind by all manner 
of arts and subtleties. In short, she was just the kind of young 
woman who in a more Gonservative age would have been burned 
as a witch. 

Nor did her delinquencies end here. It had been rumoured 
of late that she had been seen walking in the meadows and 
lanes at dusk with Edmund Standen, really the most eligible 
young man in Hedingham society. "Garew had better look 
after that pretty daughter of his," said the men. The women 
whispered about it to one another, and held themselves a Httle 
more aloof from Miss Garew than before. Those who had 
favoured her with their condescending notice withdrew it all a 
once— passed her by with blank, vacant looks, as if there were 
no such person between them and the empty air. 

Sylvia perceived the change, and smiled to herself bitterly — 
witJi that bitterness which some natures acquire in the school of 
adversity. 

" I suppose they think a Monkhampton banker's son could 
not possibly marry me," she thought. "There will be some 
pleasure in making them all savage by^nd-by." 

To-day, standing at the orchaid gate, she felt herself very 
much alone. Edmund Standen was not to oomA till Aa^tiisi \a^ ^ 



28 Taken at the Flood* 

the afternoon, and was to escort his mother and Miss Boohdal6f 
and there could be little chance of his giving mnch time to her. 
It would be bat a look, a hand-clasp, a few whispered words, 
perhaps, for the eyes of their little world would be upon them. 
She had begged him to keep the secret of their engagement ; yet, 
with a woman's inconsistency, she felt it hard that they could 
be together so little to-day. He would be in his place among 
the great ones of the land ; she in a lower world, and looked 
down upon by his people. Her father, upon the plea of indif- 
ferent health, managed to creep out of the business altogether. 
" Yon have plenty of young people who know how to amuse the 
little ones ; I should only be in tht vvay ; and the schoolmaster's 
presence might be a damper," he i^tdd to the Yicar. " Let Sylvia 
and the other girls manage it all." 

So to Sylvia, Mary Peter, Alice Oook, and such of the gentry 
who cared to assist in this philanthropio task, the business of 
the children's entertainment was left. 

The juvenile revellers came whooping in presently, all breath- 
ing hard, after their manner. Half-a-dozen elderly young ladies 
accompanied them, led by the Yicar. His daughters had a stall 
in the bazaar, and thus, as they said themselves, got out of the 
school treat. 

The day's festivities were inaugurated, as the reporter of the 
Monkhampton Courier afterwards stated, by a distribution of 
new penny buns, as a light refreshment appropriate to a hot 
day. An unauthorised old man was driving a brisk trade in 
lemonade and ginger-beer and ripe gooseberries outside the 
orchard. The buns discussed, the young revellers proceeded at 
once to the enlivening sport of " Taggy, taggy touchwood," and 
being fairly set going, would require little more than general 
supervision until tea-time, which festive period was three hours 
off. \ 

Sylvia noticed that the ladies about the Yicar had that air 
of being unconscious of her presence which she had observed in 
other ladies of late—in a word, it was a clear case of taboo. 
The Yicar, good, easy man, addressed her with his usual famih'ar 
kindness. The whispers of scandal were slow to reach his chari- 
table ears. She felt the sting of those cold, unseeing looks, 
though she had hated the patronising graciousness she had 
enjoyed till lately from the same people. It seemed a hard thing 
to be judged thus, and misjudged, only because her father wap 
poor ; a hard thing that all Hedingham should deem it impos 
sible for Edmund Standen to mean well by her. 

"Edmund is right," she thought; '^tnese people ought tc 
know of onr engagement." 

" Will he ever have the courage to own me before them aUP'* 
be wondered afterwards, when she had walked slowly away 



In Mr* Sopting*9 Orchard. 29 

from the dhiklien and their patronesses to a qniet comer of the 
great stra^ling orchard, a comer where there were plum trees 
BO old that thej grew nothing but gum. " It was all very well 
to talk brayely last night when we were alone together nndcr 
the chestnut, oetween sunset and moonrise, and seemed all the 
world to each other ; but will he really defy his mother, and 
renounce his fortune, for my sake, and own a schoolmaster's 
daughter for his future wife before all these stuck-up, purse- 
proud people, whom he has lived amongst all his life ? " 

This corner of the orchard was on a higher level than Mr. 
Harper's meadow, and Salvia could survey the bazaar as from 
a platform, without running much risk of being seen herself, 
unless any one should happen to look up to the spot where she 
stood, framed in foliage, looking.across uie tangled edge of oak 
sapling and honeysuckle. 

She had looked forward with some pleasure to this small festi- 
val — ^for the Yicar had given her a ticket for the bazaar, and she 
and Alice Cook and Mary Peter were to have gone into the field 
together and seen the county people, and the stalls with their 
dainty merchandise, and watched the seductive arts by which 
country-bred young ladies assail the well-filled pockets of country 
gentlemen; and behold here she was watching the scene by 
stealth, as it were, from her shady comer, lacking courage to go 
in among the gentry, in the face of that taboo, to which she had 
been newly subjected. She keenly felt the injustice of the whole 
thing, she profoundly despised the people ; but she couldn't face 
those unconscious stares, she could not stand before that little 
world quite alone in her bloom of youth and loveliness. 

" If ever I can pay them out for their insolence, the payment 
shall be tenfold," she said to herself, looking down at the 
simpering damsels arranging their wares with delicately gloved 
hands, trying to develop stolid young gentlemen with their 
hands in their pockets, or the nobs of their canes in their 
mouths into purcnasers of baby's socks or embroidered smoking- 
caps. 

" But I never, never shall have such an opportunity," she 
thought. " What glory is there in marrying a disinherited man ? 
It sounds very romantic, like a story one reads : but what will 
people say of my husband P I can fancy their sneering pity for 
'Poor Edmund Standen, who married so much beneath him 
and offended his mother.' How are we to live without money > 
Will Edmund be obliged to turn village schoolmaster, I wonder, 
like my father? He talked about being a clerk in the city : but 
that seems almost as bad. I cannot see anything before us 
except misery. But how good and true he is, and how dearly I 
ought to love him." 

Her face softened at the thoughti, and a lovely smile Ksx^-^ii^^ 



80 liiken at (he Flood. 

the soft, fall lips. The whole character of her beauty, which 
had been cnriously cold and hard jnst now, while she thonght of 
that little world which had set itself against her, chan^d as 
she thought of her lover. The face grewyonthfnl and innocent 
a^;ain, childlike almost with childhood's tender trustfulness. 

" I do love him with all my heart," she said to herself. " The 
first sound of his voice, when we meet affcerthe briefest parting, 
makes me tremble. The lightest touch of his hand m&es me 
forget everything, except that I love him. Why should his 
mother try to separate us P He could never find any one to love 
him as well as I — good and brave, and true as he is. It all 
comes from living in such a place as Hedin^ham. Because Ed* 
mund is good-lo(^ing, and ms father was nch, Hedin^ham has 
set him up as an idol— and his Inother believes there is no on* 
good enough for him. Or perhaps she wants him to many Misi 
Bochdale, who is like her ado{)ted daughter, and has money and 
never misses the early services, and is preached about by 
everybody in Hedingliam as a model of all that's good and 
proper." 

The fair face hardened again with^ the thought of Esther 
Bochdale. Hers, doubtless, was the influence that had made 
Mrs. Standen so cruel, so unjust to her son. Miss Bochdal* 
was in love with Edmund herself, no doubt. 

** It's almost ydcked, when they've been brought up together 
like brother and sister," Sylvia said to herself. *' She ought to 
have a sisterly affection for him, and wish to see him luLppy. 
But those quiet girls are always artfuL" 

The meadow was filling fas^ carriages driving up to the gate^ 
gjaily-dressed people ali^ting, a continual exchange of safuta- 
Sons; county gentlemen all talking veir loud, as if they meant 
all Hedingham to hear them ; the chiefs and heir-apparents of 
county families bawling at one another with a curious mixture 
of heartiness and arrogance. 

Sylvia saw the Standen party come in at the gate. Mm 
Standen leaning on her son's arm, Esther Bochdale on the 
other side, but not upon his arm. Edmund's mother was a taH 
woman of about fifby, a woman with a fine face, regular but 
somewhat large features, blue-gray eyes, and iron-gray hair, 
smoothly banded on the broad forehead. Miss Bochdale was of 
medium height, a slim, fragile-looking figure, a delicate face, a 
pale olive complexion, and sofb dark eyes — a young lady whom 
her friends c^ed interesting, and whom strangers sometimes 
spoke of as *' foreign-looking," but whom no one had yet called 
pretty. Yet that small p^e face, those large sofb eyes, that 
pensive mouth, were not without a tender poetry of their own. 
If there was beautjy there, it was the kind of beauty which the 
^ inaBfl of muikiiid is apt to disregard— a subdued and subtle 



In Mr. Mopling*M Orchard. 81 

charm, like that unpretending lovelineM WordsworUi loved to 

sing. 
A hand was slipt throngh Sylvia's arm as she stood watching 

these latest arrivals. 

"Fve been all round the orchard hunting for yon," said 
Mary Peter. ** Ain't yon coming into the field P x on*ve got 
yonr ticket, yon know. 

"I shan't nse it. I'd rather watch the people from here. 
What's the nse of walking np and down among a lot of people 
one doesn't know." 

** I never knew any one so changeable as yon, Sylvia. As to 
not knowing the people, I don't suppose I snow many more of 
them than you do, except customers, and it's very few of my 
enstomers will give me so much as a nod in such a place as this; 
€hough perhaps they'll come begging and praying of me to- 
morrow, as if I was the queen. * Do, Mary, now, try to oblige 
me with my dress by next Tuesday, even if you have to sit up a 
night or two to finish it. I assure you it's most important, and 
I shall be so much obliged.' They don't think of the way 
they've humiliated themselves when I meet them but of doors. 
Come along, Sylvia." 

" I'm not coming. You can go yourself. I don't want yon 
here." 

" How disagreeable you are, to be sure. But I'll stay a l»t to 
keep you company. 1 daresay you feel extra dull like, seeing 
Mr. Standen over there, with his ma and Miss Rochdale," ana 
Miss Peter, out of the fulness of her heart, put a caressing arm 
around Sylvia's waist. 

" I wish you wouldn't do that," exclaimed the schoolmaster's 
daughter, releasing herself from the friendly embrace. ** I'm 
sure it's warm enough without that kind of thing." 

" Well, Sylvia, you really are the most ! Doesn't Mrs. 

Standen look nice P That's the last black silk dress I made her 
— fifteen shDlings a yard I should think, and such lace on the 
body and sleeves. Nobody in Hedingham wears such silks and 
laces as Mrs. Standen, and yet she isn't an extravagant dresser ; 
never wastes her money on cheap materials, and never wears 
anything but black silk. There's Miss Rochdale; she doesn't 
look bad, does sheP I made her that white mushn; isn't it 
BweefcP" 

" Yes," said Sylvia, glancing from the daintily trimmed cos- 
tume, with its pillow-lace irillings and pink ribhions to her own 
poor gown. " She can aflford to wear good dresses, with five or 
tax hundred a'year to do what she likes with. There, go and 
enjoy yourself with the rest of the people down there, Mary. 
Yon only vex me with your frivolous talk." 

TU leave you till your temper improve«, 'SILvaak Q^s««V 



89 lakm at ths VlMi. 

answered Miss Peter, with dignity, and Sylyia was onoe mote 
alone in the shadj comer nnder the centnry-old plom trees, 
mnch to her own satisfaction. Was it not jnst possible that 
Edmnnd might slip away from his party and find her in this 
green retreat, with its perfame of wild clematis and honey- 
snckle P 

She watched the little party make the ronnd of the stalls. 
Mrs. Standen stopped to buy something of the Yicar's daugh- 
ters, and Esther Kochdale also took out her purse — "just to 
show people how rich she is," thought Sylvia, with an envious 
pang — and there was business transacted to the gratification of 
all parties. Edmund left the stall laden with parcels. Sylvia 
saw bim speak to his mother, and then ^o out of the field gate, 
to put his parcels in the carriage, no doubt. Would he take this 
opportunity of slip^ng round to the orchard P He could come 
by a little lane without returning to the meadow. Sylvia's 
heart quickened its beating, as it always did at the thought of 
Edmund's approach. 

" Shall I go to the gate and watch for him P " she asked her- 
self. " No. This is such a quiet spot for us to meet. If he 
loves me as much as he pretends he will find me here. I think 
I could track my way to him if he were to hide in the heart of 
a great forest. Love would guide me." 

Love guided Mr. Standen to the comer by the old plum trees. 
Certainly Mr. Hopling's orchard was not a large domain— five 
or six acres at most. 

He came to her, and took her to his heart as he had done last 
night, with those strong arms which seemed powerful enough to 
shield her from every harm. 

" My dearest, I thought I should find you in some quiet nook 
like this, where we might have five minutes* talk away from the 
eyes of the world. How lovely you look ! " 

" In this dress ? " she exclaimed, incredulously, ** when every- 
one is dressed so beautifally." 

** Dress ! — Pshaw. I see a lot of silly finery, but no one who 
can compare with my Sylvia. I had a wakefal night, darling, 
thinking over all we had talked about, but got up this morning 
in excellent spirits. I have made up my mind as to the future. 
I shall try to get a situation in the old bank — my father's bank, 
you know. It is a joint-stock business now, and has been won- 
derfully extended since the company bought my father's interest. 
There are branches all over the West of England. I know my 
father's name will stand me in good stead with the directors, 
and I shall rise to a managerial position much sooner than any 
other man could hope to do. As manager of one of the branches 
I should have five or six hundred a year, and on that we can 
get oa oapitally «nd make a happy ii^^e for ourselves and out 



In Mr. Hoplinfs Orthard. 88 

diildreA. I have thonglit it all ont» Sylvia, and am quite re« 
eigned to my mother^s dedaion." 

'* How good you are 1" said the girl, with a shade of scorn in 
her look and tone ; " yon dance attendance on your mother, hke 
a dutiful son, knowing that she means to cheat you out of you? 
just due." 

"You mustn't use such hard words, Sylvia. There is no 
question of cheating ; — my mother has a right to dispose as she 
pleases of money that was left in her control.*' 

" I can't see tiiat," cried Sylvia, impetuously, ** It was meant 
for you ; your father saved it for you, or the bulk of his fortune 
at any rate ; and now you are to toil and slave to earn a pit- 
tance. It is shamefuL" 

" If I can forgive my mother you must forgive her too, Sylvia. 
Or I shall think you care more for my father's money than for 
me," said Edmund, gravely. 

It was the first time that he had spoken to her with anything 
approaching reproof. 

** Forgive me," she said ; " I love you with all my heart. I 
am not afraid even of poverty with you." 

" It shall not be poverty, dearest, if I can help it." 

*' And now you hJEid better go back to your mother and Miss 
Eochdale." 

"They can amuse themselves very well without me, for a 
little while. Let us talk of the future, darling, for I don't mean 
to wait long before you and I begin the world together." 

^ " You mean our marriage to be soon," she said, looking up at 
him wonderingly, " in spite of your mother's decision P " 

" In spite of everythiDg ; I am not afraid of the battle of 
Hfe." 

" I am glad it is to be soon," said Sylvia, thoughtfully. " The 
Hedingham ladiss look at me as if'^ I were an outcast, only 
b<>cause you and I have been seen together." 

Mr. Standen muttered something not complimentary to the 
Hedingham ladies. 

"People must be told of our engagement at once, Sylvia," 
he said, after that brief interjection. " My mother knows, and 
every one else must know. I'U speak to your father to-night.' 

" I'm afraid he'U be as much against our marriage as Mrs. 
Btanden." 

"But why, darling?" asked Edmund, surprised. Was not 
he, Edmund Standen, even without fortune, a good match for a 
parish schoolmaster's daughter? 

" Because of the change in your prospects," answered Sylvia. 
** My father has suffered so much from poverty that he is more 
afraid of it than you are, Edmund, and he has some vague idea 
that I au£ht to make what h» calls a good marriage." 



U Taken at the Flood. 

^Meaning that you are to marry a nian with plenty of 
money, I suppose." 

•• I Ihink 80." 

'* I should hardly think a &ther would sell his only daughter 
to the best bidder. 

*' It isn't qnite so bad as that. Papa only thinks I onght to 
marry some one with a settled income. !But yon needn't tell 
him that Mrs. Standen means to disinherit yon/' she added» 
with a bright look. The suppression of a truth never troubled 
Sylvia's conscience. 

*'What, ask his permission to marry you under false pre* 
tencesP I am sorry you should think me capable of sucn a 
thing, Sylvia." 

** Would it be very wrong P Well, you must do as you please 
about it ; only I know if papa hears the truth he will oppose 
our marriage with all his mi^ht." 

" I can endure his opposition, if you wiU be loyal, dearest. 
We are not bound to sacnfice our happiness to his prejudices, 
but we are bound to tell him the truth. He has been Kept in 
the dark too long already." 

"Tell him then," answered Sylvia, with a sigh. •*! must 
endure his grumbling and lamentations as well as I can.** 

**You need not endure long, Sylvia. I'U have our banns 
given out next Sunday." 

<< I am glad of that," said the girl ; " all Hedingham will hear 
our names given out. Edmund Standen, bachelor, of this 
parish, and Sylvia Cftrew, spinster, also of this parish. I dare- 
say some of the Hedingham ladies will feel inclined to start up 
out of their seats, and forbid the banns. And your motheiy 
how will she sit quietly by to hear that announcement thrdS 
weeks running." 

"My mother has made up her mind to oppose me in the 
dearest wish of my heart, and she cannot complain if that 
decision brings some pain to herself," said Edmund Standen, 
with a resolute look which Sylvia knew very well. " I accept 
the punishment she chooses to inflict upon me, but I refuse to 
sacrifice the happiness of my future life. I have been an obe- 
dient son up to this hour, but there has come a time when 
submission would mean imbecility. Evexy man has a right to 
choose for himself when it comes to the choice that must colour 
Ids whole existence. Even if he is to make a mistake, let it be 
at least his own mistake, and not somebody else's." 

The youn^ man spoke rather as if he were arguing out a 
question which he had been for some time debating wip him- 
self. The girl listened eagerly, and looked up at him with fond 
admiration. Yes, this was something like a lover — a man who 
would stand firm in opposition to all the world, if need werob £or 



In Mr. SopUnfi Orchard. 85 

her sake ; verily a shield against calamity, a rock of stren^h in 
the day of misfortune. Never till this moment had Sylvia felt 
BO proud of him. 

" Are you quite friends with your mother?" she asked. 

•• I hope that I know my duty as a son. There were some 
hitter words between us the day before yesterday ; such words 
as are not easily forgotten. But I could never be wanting in 
respect to my mother. I have striven to show her that I still 
love and honour her, although I take my own course in this 
matter." 

** And has she been kind P** 

** If possible kinder than usual. Yet there is a cloud between 
us, ana I know she is unhappy. We can but trust in Time. 
She will forgive me by-and-by, when she learns to know you 
better." 

" That she will never do. She has a rooted dislike to me. I 
have seen it in her face. But don't let as speak of that» 
Edmund. What need I care, so long as you love me P But 
tell me how Miss Bochdale takes our engagement. Is she as 
angry as your mother ? " 

Mr. Standen's expression softened at the mention of Miss 
Bochdale. "Esther Eochdale," he said, with a half-careless 
tenderness, that affection of custom which grows up in the 
narrow circle of home, " oh, she is the dearest girl in the world, 
and would be the last to disapprove of anything that involved 
my happiness. But I don't suppose she knows of my engage- 
ment. 1 haven't said a word to ner about it, and I daresay my 
mofther has been equally silent. You need fear no unpleasant- 
ness from Esther, darlmg. I feel sure that she will be your 
friend — and a true one." 

Sylvyi looked doubtful, but said nothing. 

" And now, dearest, I must run back to them," said Edmund, 
looking at his watch. He had been a quarter of an hour instead 
of his intended five minutes. How swiftly the moments had 
fiown in that quiet corner screened by the moss-grown plum 
trees. Would all his life to come glide past him like that, in a 
dreamlike rapture too sweet to seem quite real. No, there 
would be his work-a-day life — a stem struggle with fortune. 
Home and love would be like some magic isle, towards which he 
would steer his bark at set of sun, across the heavy seas of 
worldly work and worldly contest — a blessed haven from tho 
storms of life. 

** So soon, Edmund ! " said the girl disconsolately. 

* My own one, I've stayed longer than I intended already 
My mother will soon be tired of that crowded meadow and the 
|;lare of the sun. I must be ready to take her home." 

^ Yaa might oome afterwardS| and see thi^ cihMx^ii %i^ H«»»^ 



td Tnken at the Flood. 

^ ** I sliotild like it of all things. Bnt the Totmbeet are to 
dine with ns at six. I shall have to sit at the bottom of the 
table for a couple of hours— jnst the nicest time in the evening 
—making believe to enjoy myself. Good-bye." 

So with a kiss tiiey parted. Sylvia sorely discontented with 
Fate, which seemed inexorable. She had hoped that Edmund 
«70uld assist at the tea-drinking. 



CHAPTER IV. 

BLIND man's BUFfr 

Sylvia speedily left her corner, tired of watching the little 
groups of people stop to shake hands and talk to one another for 
five minutes or so, as if the world held no greater affection than 
the love that bound them, and then separate and stroll away, to 
exchange the same enthusiastic greetings with other groups. A 
birdseye view of the Hedingham school bazaar conduced some- 
what to the idea that there was something hollow in polite 
society. People smiled so incessantly, and seemed so inexpres- 
sibly glad to see one another ; yet Sylvia saw some of those 
very enthusiasts yawn rather drearily when the gaze of society 
was off them. 

She went back to the middle of the orchard, where the chil- 
dren were playing blind man's buff. 

They entreated her to join this sport, nay, besought her with 
such earnestness — the Vicar himself being master of the revels, 
and some of the elderly young ladies joining in the juvenile play 
^th gushing vivacity — that she could hardly refuse. She 
yielded reluctantly, but with a tolerable grace, and very soon 
afterwards was seized upon by a hulking boy, who pat his rough 
hands over her face and head, fastened his claws triumphanuy 
upon her coronet of shining plaits, and bawled out that he had 
caught Miss Oarew. 

Upon this the handkerchief was bound over Sylvia's eyes, 
and after being asked some absurd question about her father's 
horses, she was twisted round three times by the Vicar's friendly 
hand, and told to catch whom she could. She did not enter 
into the game with much spirit, so the elderly young ladies 
remarked to each other maliciously. Such simple sports had 
no attraction for Sylvia Garew, they said, since there were no 
Tonnff gentlemen here to admire her. 

Syma did indeed glide about somewhat listlessly among tha 



4 



Slini MMs Buffi 87 

gnarled tranka of the apple and cherry trees, more fMirfnl of 
wounding her face against the crooked branches than eager to 
capture one of the revellers. She stretched out her arms now 
and then feebly, and tried to pierce the folds of the handker- 
chief, and even raised her head to look under it, but the Vicar 
had made his bandage secure. Justice herself was not blinder 
than Sylvia Oarew. 

Presently the girls and boys grew quieter. There was lesa 
screaming and bawling at every doubtful step she took among 
the trees. She fancied she heard strange voices — the voices of 
gentry talking at a little distance, one voice with a low languid 
tone that was new to her, and different from most of the Hed- 
ingham voices, lacking that fine hearty loudness which distin- 
guished the natives of the land. 

She groped on. wearily, giving her head more than one bump 
against the rugged branches, whose rough bark caught and 
dragged her hair, but reaching nothing with her outspread arms 
except those interlacing boughs which seemed to encounter her 
everywhere, dense as the undergrowth of that dreadful forest 
where the torn trees rained blood. She was beginning to be 
very tired, and to long for the summons to prepare the tea- 
tables ; — anything so that she were but released from this hate- 
ful game — when some one came plump into her arms. 

Sne clasped the some one eagerly, and was immediately 
saluted by a loud hurrah, in which the Vicar's voice joined 
heartily, as if she had done something wonderfol in catching 
this person. It was neither boy nor girl belonging to the parish 
school. No starched cotton frock, no corduroy jacket encountered 
her curious fingers, but the smoothest broadcloth, the soft velvet 
collar of a gentleman's coat. 

Was it Edmund Standen P Her first thought was of him ; 
her light fingers trembled upon the garment which they wandered 
over. No, it was some one who was neither so tall nor so big 
as Edmund. Her lifted hand touched his uncovered head. The 
soft silky hair was smooth and thin, not thick and wavy like 
Edmund s. 

** I don't know who it is," she said helplessly, disappointed at 
discovering that it was not Edmund Standen, although after 
what he had said she had no reason to expect him. But love 
and reason do not always go hand-in-hand. 

" Then yen must pay forfeit," cried the shrill voice of a bold 
big boy ; tne kind of boy whom nothing can abash. 

^ And what is the forfeit P " asked the voice of the prisoner — 
the same low languid tones Sylvia had noticed a few minutes 
ago. 

•* A kiss I" bawled the irrepressible boy. 

• Tbei> I yentme te claim my prWUege,'* m'\>i5Bkft ^gsoSikKBjaai^ 



k 



88 Taken at the Mood. 

and a moudWclioed lip tonched Sylvia's vury liglitlj. It was 
the reyerential salute of a courteous knigLt. 

A gentle hand loosened the bandage, and she found herself 
standmg, almost in the centre of the orchard, face to face with 
an eldeny gentleman ; the Yicar, the boys and girls, and elderly 
ybung ladies all looking on. 

^ The gentleman was a stranger, a man of between fifty and 
sixty, nearer perhaps to the later decade than to the earner, a 
man with a certain elegance of bearing and appearance that 
w^as new to Sylvia, a man with a long oval face, and that 
regular cast of feature, which seems to bear the stamp of high 
blood, a face not unlike the portraits of Charles the First, or 
rather that kind of face grown older, with smooth silver-gray 
hair parted on the high narrow forehead, and a long drooping 
moustache shading the thin lips. The eyes were bine, and 
looked kindly at Sylvia, nay, more than kindly, admiringly. 
That admiring glance brought a vivid blush into the girl's fair 
face. She was not sorry that the little world of Hedingham 
should see her admired by this stranger, who seemed a person 
of distinction. 

^ " Fairly caught, I think. Sir Aubrey," said the Vicar chuck- 
ling. 

Sylvia gave a little start, and looked up at the stranger with 
those hazel eyes that had bewitched Edmund Standen — eyea 
which were lovely enough to subjugate even those colder critics 
who depreciated the schoolmaster's daughter. She looked up 
at the elderly gentleman with unconcealed surprise. This was 
Sir Aubrey Perriam, then, and it was his presence which had 
caused that flutter of excitement in the orchard, an alertness 
in the manner of the Yicar and his little band of spinsters, a 
tespectful hush among the children, who stood in a wide ring, 
staling their utmost, and breathing harder than ever. 

" Fairly caught," repeated the Vicar, pleased that the great 
landowner should join so pleasantly in these village sports. It 
woidd lead doubtless to a handsome subscription to the school 
fund. 

" Fairly caught, I admit," said Sir Aubrey's softer tones, as 
he bent down with a chivalrous air and kissed the little hand 
that hung helplessly at Sylvia's side. This touch of old-world 
gallantry thrilled her with a new sense of triumph. She wished 
that Mrs. Standen had been by to see Sir Aubrey's notice of 
Ler. 

** Come^*' said the Vicar briskly, " now for the tables. It's 
almost tea-time." 

It would not do to waste any more moments in the contempla- 
tion of that little group which formed the centre of the circle. 
,8jfl7ia b.\u8hing and downcast^ yet with a pleased look in ths 



Blind Man's Bvf. 89 

half- veiled Hazel eyes and on the smiling lips; Sir Aubrey 
Perriam looking at her with courtly, elderly gentlemanlike 
admiration; the two making a graceful picture againnt that 
background of sunlit orchard. It was all proper and pleaeanb 
enough, a great country gentleman admiring a beautiful villager, 
and so on ; but Mr. Yancourt, the Vicar, felt that anyprolonga- 
tion of the little scene might have been unolerical. ' He clapped 
his hands sharply, as if to dispel some subtle magic lurking in 
the air, called to his votaries, and set the teacups and saucers 
rattling in such a way as to awaken a deeper dreamer than Sir 
Anbrejr Perriam. 

Sylvia went to her duties, much better pleased with ]ife in 
general than she had been half an hour ago. Sir Aubrey Per- 
riam had admired her, and her little world had seen his admi« 
lyxtion. That must have been a stab to the hearts of those 

Eroud Christians who had cut her remorselessly a little while 
efbre. Mary Peter and Alice Cook had also witnessed her 
brief triumph, and though she considered those associates of 
her girlhood in^nitely beneath her, she liked them to behold 
her success. She jingled the cups and saucers gaily as she 
ranged them along the narrow deal table, with its clean white 
cloth. She laboured cheerfally at her task of bread-and-butter 
cutting, thou|rh it promised to be endless. 

" You remind me of the heroine of a famous romance," said 
a voice very near her, and she looked up with a sudden blush. 
Sylvia's complexion was one to which blushes are natural, 9 
word or a look brought the carnation tint to that delicately 
pale face. 

It was Sir Aubrey, who was walking up and down the clear 
space between the tables with Mr. Yancourt. He had made a 
brief round of the fancy fair, spent a sovereign at one of the 
stalls, and had come to uie orchard to see the school children at 
pla¥, just live minutes or so before he was captured by Sylvia. 
Pernaps he had put himself a little in the way of this capture 
when he saw the white-robed figure coming towards him with 
outstretched arms. 

Once in the orchard. Sir Aubrey seemed to prefer its rustic 
attractions to the fascinations of the fair stell-keepers in the 
adjoining meadow. 

" The glare of the sun yonder was more than I could endure," 
he said, as if to apologise for this preference. '* Now here these 
fine old trees give a delightful shade, and the tuif is softer. I 
should like to see those young people at tea.*' 

The Yicar whispered to one of his faithful adherents, and five 
minutes afterwards, as if by magic, a comfortable garden anxk 
chair, themofst luxurious thing in garden chairs, was placed near j 
the head o^ the tables for Sir Anbrev Perru]i,Lu'i& \]kAQQixwiSLcAd>ikQ»Uiw i 



40 Taken at the Flood. 

It had been brought from the vicarage on the spnr of the momenta 
Mr. Yanconrt was resolved that u Sir Aubrey were well dis- 

Eosed towards the schoob there should be nothing to dfunp 
is ardonr. 

Sir Aubrey sank into the garden seat with a contented air, 
and looked about him benignly while those hungry children 
were fed. Sylvia and the other ladies went to and fro witH 
heaped-up plates, and administered to those devouring scholars. 
Files of currant cake, innumerable buns, mountains of bread-and- 
butter vanished before those youthful consumers. Sylvia had 
hard work. Sometimes she was at the head of one table pourine 
out tea, ready milked and sugared — for individual tastes could 
hardly be considered among so many — from a huge white 
pitcher; sometimes at the bottom of the other table cutting up 
a fresh cake. The supplies had been liberal, but the demand 
equalled them. 

Sir Aubrey surveyed the whole proceeding with evident 
interest ; but those among the Yicar s ladv mends who had 
time to watch him closely observed Ihat his eve seemed to 
Grander after Sylvia Carew wherever she went. If she vanished 
for a few minutes from his sight, his glance grew listless, and 
it seemed to brighten when she reappeared. Whereupon the 
Hedingham ladies put him down as a wicked elderly gentleman. 
They had no opinion of any one who admired Sylvia Garew. To 
be caught by that showy beauty was the mark of an inferior 
mind. Edmund Standen was supposed to be on the road to 
ruin directly he was seen walking with Sylvia Garew. And 
now, behold, Sir Aubrey Perriam — to whom all Hedingham 
paid homage, as in duty bound — seemed about to enter upon the 
same pernicious path. 

More than once had Sylvia herself met the glance of those 
mild elderly eyes. It was a glance: that set her thinking 
curiously of what might have happened had she not loved and 
been beloved by Edmund Standen. 



CHAPTER V, 

HOW IT CAME TO PASS. 



k 



Dean House, which had belonged for the last twenty yearn f o 
the Standens, lay about half a mile from Hedingham, and th« 
land belonging to it was in another parish, although the Standens 
were always considered Hedingham people. They had their pew 
in Hedingham church, which nad not yet been restored in the 
modem-medisBval style of open oak seats. They subscribed 



Sow it came to Pass. 41 

to all Hedingliam chanties; and, in a word, belonged to 
Hedingham. 

The nouse, which had been built in George the First's time^ 
was big and sqnare, and red and imposing. There was some 
mixture of yellow bricks with the red, and there were stone 
dressings wnich relieved the general redness ; but for all that 
Dean House was essentially a red house, and, seen from one of 
the hills that rose on every side of it — for this part of England 
is all hill and valley — made a glowing spot of colour again^ the 
background of greenery. 

There were three rows of windows, seven in each row; a 
centre of three windows, and a wing on each side. The topmost 
row was surmounted by a handsome cornice and stone pediment, 
which gave a certain grandeur to the grave solid mansion, and 
testified to the aspiring mind of the wealthy Dean who built the 
house, planted the three cedars that spread their dark branches 
above the lawn, and laid down the turf of those two long bowling 
alleys which terminated in a grassy mound, planted wiui obelisk- 
shaped cypresses at the four comers, and crowned by a summer- 
hoDse of the High Dutch school of architecturaw 

Dean House was not enshrined in the aristocratic seclusion of 
a Park, like Perriam Place, for instance, whose walls the eye ot 
man only beheld dimly in the remote distance, soUtary and un- 
approacnable as a Magician's Palace. Dean House fronted the 
high road, and was open to the public gaze athwart the florid 
iron-work of a handsome gate. A stone-paved walk led across 
the front garden, where the blaze of scarlet geraniums in huge 
green tubs was almost painful to behold on a hot summer's day. 
Ho one had ever seen a yellow leaf on those geraniums, after 
eight o'clock in the morning. Indeed one must needs be an 
early riser to discover any trace of neglect or decay in the 
gardens of Dean House. The two old gardeners had been 
trained into abnormal vigilance, and whatever sickly leaf or 
seeding blossom escaped their eyes, was cropped by the stout 
garden scissors with which Mrs. Standen armed herself when 
she made her morning round of inspection — a duty she per- 
formed daily, regardless of weather. 

The stone-paved walk terminated in a broad flight of shallow 
stone steps, at the top of which there were half-glass door? 
opening into the hall. This was a spacious apartment^ halt 
hall, half billiard room, or summer parlour, commanding a fine 
view of the flower garden and bowling alley, with the High Dutch 
pavilion at the end thereof. The lawn with the cedars was at 
one end of the house, facing the five long windows of the 
drawing-room. The Dean had taken care that his house should 
be agreeable to look at on every side. There were no ugly bits, 
ao ungainly outbuildings. Even the kitchen wia^ ^as «» W\i^, 



42 Taken at the Mood. 

some piece of masonry, looking out npon a wide courtyard and 
facing the stables, a handsome range of buildings in the same 
style as the house. 

The billiard table was a relic of the late Mr. Standen. Mrs. 
Standen would never have consented to buy such a thing, even 
for a beloved only son. Indeed she could not quite conquer the 
idea that the game of billiards was sinful. But the best men 
have their weaknesses, and Mr. Standen, the banker, had liked 
billiards. His untimely death — he had died at fifby-five years of 
age, and just seven years after his marriage — made the billiard 
table sacred. His widow would not bring herself to part with 
anything that had belonged to him, or even to put it away igno- 
miniousfy in an empty coach house. So there the billiard &ble 
remained, and Edmund Standen played on it under the same 
hanging lamp that had lighted his father. He would have 
taught Esther Eochdale to play, and thus secured an oppo- 
nent on the premises, but agamst this his mother put her 
veto with uncompromising severity. Billiards for a man might 
be tolerable, if indulged in with moderation. But for a 

woman ! Only by a shiver of horror did Mrs. Standen 

conclude the sentence. Esther sighed and obeyed, as she always 
obeyed her adopted mother. But in her heart of hearts she had 
a hankering for billiards. 

The furniture of Dean House was like the geraniums in the 
forecourt and the flowers in the flower garden. Dust was a 
thing unknown. A rickety chair, or a scratch upon the polished 
tables and sideboards, had never been seen by the visitor's en- 
quiring eye. The furniture was old-fashioned without being 
antique. It belonged to that period of universal clumsiness, at 
the beginning of this century, when the minds of men were busy 
with tnoughts and fears about ^reat wars, and art and beaul^ 
had in a manner gone to sleep allover Europe — witness the furni- 
ture of the first French Empire. Indeed, art seems to have taken 
a nap almost as long as the Sleeping Beauty's magic slumber, 
before the great awakening of the Gothic revival. Mrs. 
Stand^n's furniture, of which she was somewhat proud, was in- 
efiably nglv. Everything was in squares, or parallelograma * 
You could nardlv have found Hogartlr s line of beauty in all the 
house. The dark hues of old Spanish mahogany and rosewood 

Erevuled everywhere mlv relieved here and there by a clumsy 
rass moulding on a cul^nier, or the brass handles of a chest of 
drawers. The bedsteads were all awe-inspiring four-posters, 
shrouded by voluminous^ curtains of drab or green ^mask, 
within which a new Diogenes might have made himself a 
hermitage, where to spend his days, remote from the eye of his 
fellow-men. 
The drawing-room* a fine ai^aitment, forty feet long, was fui' 



How it came to Pass. 48 

nisbed en suite with ponderous rosewood tables, rosewood cliiffo* 
niers, rosewood sofas flat against the walls, with square backs 
and square arms, and a general hardness of aspect. A cool- 
looking, washed-out chintz shrouded the splendour of the crim- 
son tabouret covers, save on festive occasions. Crimson tabouret 
curtains fell in long straight folds on either side the five tall 
wi9dows. No work of art relieved the vast expanse of flowered 
paper, white and gold, somewhat tarnished with lo»g wear — a 
paper so expensive that it was supposed to last for a generation. 
One tall glass over the chimney-piece reflected the empty walls 
and a glimpse of the garden tnrougk an opposite window, two 
small Tow glasses over the chiflbniers duplicated the prim rows 
of Pekin-Ghina cups and saucers, and be-dragoned bowls, and 
bottle-shaped jars. The rosewood tables were adorned with 
such ancient trifles as are preserved by ladies in old country 
houses. An oblong volume of engravings — The Beauties o^ 
Tunbridge Wells — tied with faded blue ribbons. A Keepsake of 
the year *35, which opened of itself at a poem by L. E. L. A 
knitting box in Tunbridge ware, an inkstand of Derbyshire spar, 
a letter-weight of Cornish serpentine — relics of Mr. and Mrs. 
Standen's wedding tour. A blotting book worked in satin 
stitch, the silks faded to palest salmons and faintest grays. A 
set of Indian ehessmen, presented by that generous Angla< 
Indian kinsman whom almost every respectable family 
possesses. 

In spite of the ugliness and clumsiness of the furniture the 
room was handsome, and even pleasant. Space and light go for 
so much, and the Dean had spared no expense in the way of 
woodwork or carving, Mrs. Standen's drawing-room had a cool 
airy look in summer, a cheering warmth in winter, and outside 
those long windows appeared the smoothest of lawns, shaded hy 
the noblest of trees. Beared in such a home as Dean House, it 
would have been difficult for Mr. Standen to deny that his lines 
had been cast in pleasant places. Yet, so perverse is human 
nature, there were seasons when the irreproachable propriety, 
the undeviating order of his home almost worried this young 
man, when he telt, tempted no doubt by some Satanic influence, 
a wild yearning for a taste of some less perfect domesticity, even 
a draught from the flerv chalice of Bohemian life. 

The servants were all old servants, trained by Mrs. Standen, 
servants who had been with her for twenty years or so, and 
knew " her ways," and might be relied upon to do the same 
thing always in precisely the same manner. There was no pre- 
liminary skirmishing when Mrs. Standen entertained company. 
The largest dinner party could not flutter the serenity of that 
model household. The parlour-maid knew every shelf in the 
9i >aciou8 china doaets, where the old Worcester dinner serdcieK 



M Taken at {he Mood. 

splendid in pnrple and gold, and the Grown Derby dessert ser* 
vice were laid out in state, as it were. She knew all about the 
best diamond-cut glass, knew exactly what her mistress desired : 
so that Mrs. Standen had no more trouble than if she had been 
a duchess with an establishment of fifty servants. 

To middle age the serenity of such a life is almost enough for 
content ; but youth is apt to revolt against this calm beatitude, 
and there were moments when Edmund Standen felt that this 
sleepy monotonous existence had gone on a little too long. The 
four years which he spent on the continent, as a student at a 
German university, and afterwards as a' wanderer among the 
famous cities of the world, serving the rich man's apprentice* 
ship to Art and Beauty, made the only break in his life. He 
looked back at his college days sometimes with a sigh, even 
now in the glory of his manhood, and thought of those reck- 
less riotous fellow-students with whom the long nights passed 
so swiftly in the wine-shops of Heidelberg — thought of vacation 
tours in the Black Forest, and the various dissipations of that 
foreign life of which Mrs. Standen had but the vaguest idea. 
Had he any right to be dissatisfied with his life when nis mother 
loved him so fondly, when his wishes and his fancies were alwajrs 
considered by her — when the grave, noble face brightened at his 
coming, come when he would, and the quiet voice was always 
tender to himP He told himself that he nad no right to wish 
for any wider life than that jog-trot existence at Dean House, 
and that his chief duty was to be a good son. 

This was before that fatal hour in which he fell in love with 
S^rlvia Garew. He had been wandering about Hedingham one 
bright April Sunday, and found himself, half an hour before the 
afternoon service, in the shady old churchyard, where genera- 
tions of departed Standens had recorded their respectability in 
substantial middle-class headstones. It was only of late that 
the Standens had risen to place and power, as it were, in Hed- 
ingham. A couple of generations back they had been simple 
yeomen or traders. Edmund's grandfather had set up that 
banking business which had given renown to the name of 
Standen. 

Edmund dawdled about the churchyard this Sunday afternoon, 
not knowing particularly well what to do with his leisure. He 
had been strolling about the country in a somewhat vagabond 
spirit smce the close of the morning service, when he ought to 
have been partaking of the cold luncheon, or early dinner, which 
marked the Sabbath day at Dean House. This morning he had 
felt that the orderly meal, so provokinglv exact in its resemblance 
to all foregoing Sabbath mealp, would be a burden greater than 
he could bear. So he had roamed through hawthorn-scented 
lanes and water-meadows, and loitered by dusky trout-streanwt 



Hm it tame to Pai9. 4& 

staring at the water, and wisliing it were a lawful day, and lie 
were provided with his rod, and eanntered tlirongh the slow 
placid hours. Thej had been much more pleasanuj spent in 
this idle commune with nature than at his mother's perfectly 
appointed board, where he could but repeat the usual Sunday 
small talk — talk kept on purpose for the day, as it seemed to 
Edmund Standen — and stare at the diamond-cut decanters and 
water-jug, and yawn feebly in the long intervals of silence. 

" I should be glad if we regulated our lives a little less by the 
clock," he thou^t, as he rose reluctantly from the green bank 
above the trout-stream, where he had stretched himself in deli- 
cious rest. ** Indeed, sometimes when my mother preaches her 
little sermon about punctuality I feel that I could hate the man 
who invented clocks. How nice it must be to be a savage, with 
no particular time for getting up or going to bed, or dining, or 
dressing; nothing but perpetual liberty, and the wild free woods 
for one's habitation.** He remembered, however, that there was 
a particular time for the afternoon service, and that he was bound 
to appeiur thereat. He had excused himself for preferring this 
country nunble to attendance at the family meal ; but there was 
no indulgence that would excuse his absence from afternoon 
• service. So in his anxiety to be punctual he made a little more 
haste than was necessary, and found himself in the old church- 
vard half an hour too soon. A small side door stood open, and 
he looked into the church. The quiet ^ray old Gothic church, 
with its barbarous whitewashed walls, its rotten remnant of a 
carved oak screen, its mutilated columns with faded hatchments 
stuck against the capitals, its low gallery, and clumsy organ, 
and ponderous pulpit, with monstrous sounding-board ; and that 
delicious sense of coolness and welcome shadow which made the 
temple almost lovely. 

A babble of shrill voices had attracted him to this door, and 
looking in, he saw a row of small children in one of the side 
aisles, and a girl leaning against the door of a pew with a book 
in her hand, examining them in the Church Catechism. 

This was Sylvia Oarew. The fair, perfect face surprised him 
into such admiration as he had never felt for a woman*s beauty 
till this hour. It was like the one picture in a crowded gallery 
which rivets the wanderer*s gaze, and holds him spell-bound 
after a half-listless admiration of five hundred other pictures ; 
the one melody in all the tangled music of an opem that smites 
the Hstener's heart. 

He had no excuse for going into the church, he could only 
itand in the little archway and look at her, admiringly, almost 
reverently, as if he had seen one of the marble angels in Dame 
Sybil Perriam's monument in the chancel yonder conjured into 
lijfe. While he lingered* lost in contemplation of this beautifuL 



46 Taken at the Mood. 

picture, the girl looked up, and their eyes met in that first loolr 
which was the unfelt presage of destiny. The girl blushed, atid 
then smiled ; and, encouraged by that friendly smile, Edmund 
Standen crossed the threshold. 

The catechism was finished. Miss Carew's pupils had stumbled 
through their answers to those world-known mterrogatories more 
awkwardly and hopelessly than village school chili&en generally 
do stumble — for it must be confessed that Miss 0arew*8 class in 
the Sunday school was always more backward than other classes; 
but then, as Sylvia argued, the people who took the other classes 
were fine ladies, who taught for their own pleasure, and prided 
themselves on their success as teachers, while she taught those 
tiresome children only because she was obliged. 

" I'm afraid you find your class rather drowsy this warm day," 
said Mr. Standen, not knowing what else to say. 

" They are always stupid and troublesome," answered Sylvia, 
with a disdainful toss of her pretty head. " I don't think the 
weather makes much difierence. Mary Jane Harris, will you be 
good enough to stand on the ground mstead of on my feet. I 
brought them in here because the school was so crowded with 
children and teachers." 

"I think a young lady 1 know teaches in your Sunday 
school." 

" There are a great many young ladies who teach," answered 
Sylvia indifferently, " but I don't know that their teaching does 
any good." 

•'The young lady I mean is Miss Rochdale," said Edmund, 
feeling that he had managed to introduce himself to the young 
lady m quite a creditable manner. He had no doubt that she 
was a lady, even in the Hedingham sense of the word. He saw 
no signs of poverty in that neatly mended white gown which 
became her so admirablv. He only knew that she was lovelier 
than any living woman "be had ever seen ; a reminiscence of the 
world of pictures, rather than a creature of mortal mould. 

" I know Miss Rochdale to speak to," said Sylvia, "but I don't 
know much of her," and then, before Edmund Standen could say 
another word, she murmured a shy good afternoon, and went 
away with her little fiock, almost as if she had melted from hin 
eight like the memory of that old Italian picture which her 
perfect face recalled to his mind — a vision of fair tranquil beauty, 
with golden braided hair, and liquid hazel eyes. 

This was the beginning of that passion which Mrs. Standen 
•poke of bitterly as Edmund's infatuation. He discovered before 
the day was ended that his peerless beauty was the parish school- 
master's daughter. But the discovery made very little difference 
in the swifb growth of this fatal flame. Before a week was over 
L lie knew that he was passionately in love with Sylvia Carew ; 



Bow it came to Past. ^ 

that earth and heaven wore a new aspect ; that henceforUi to be 
happy meant to be with her. 

For the dnU round of respectable daily life this passion 8X)oiled 
him ntterly. The fanltless machinery of domesticity at Dean 
Hoase became intolerable to him. He could no longer dawdle, 
with a decent show of contentment, through the long summer 
evenings, stroUing up and down the smooth gravel, or close 
shaven turf, looking at his mother's geraniums, or pelargoniums, 
or standard roses, and lingering patiently while she clipped a 
lea f here, or nipped off an imperfect bud there. Sylvia Oarew filled 
his heart and mind, and he was always longing for their next 
meeting, always recalling her last words, the fluttering touch of 
her little hand, the tender upward glance of those divme eyes. 

Accident — ^he called it fortune — fevoured him. Sylvia and he 
contrived to meet very often before Hedingham knew of their 
folly, and in one soft June twihght, reckless of his own future, 
heedless of any pain this choice might inflict upon the mother 
who adored him, he asked Sylvia Carew to be his wife. 

What answer could she give him but a glad " Yes " P Hie 
was the flrst voice that had ever awakened tenderness in her 
heart ; and village gossip had taught her to coneider him the 
most eligible bachelor in Hedingham. 



OHAPTEE VL 

UBS. 8TAin)EN AND H£B SON HAVE A FEW WOBBS. 

It is half-past ten o'clock, and the visitors have departed from 
Dean House, after what the two Miss Toynbees declare gush- 
ingly to have been a most enjoyable evening. It has borne a 
close resemblance to other enjoyable evenings at Hedingham. 
There has been a well-ordered dinner, but not a banquet of sur- 
prises such as Heliogabalus or Philip of Orleans might have 
prepared for his guests ; since every one at Hedingham knows 
pretty well the strong points of his noighbour's cook, and couK 
make a shrewd guess as to the contents of the silver entree 
dishes before the covers are lifted. Then the ladies have taken 
a little stroll in the twilight to admire the bedding-out plants, 
have even visited the hottiouses, perhaps at the risk of whiten- 
ing their festal raiment ; while the gentlemen, Edmund Standen, 
Mr. Toynbee, and Mr. Holmes the curate, have talked politics- 
airing respectable Conservative opinions — over their Claret and 
coffee. Then they have all met in the big cool drawing-room 



46 Taken at the Mood. 

for tea and a little mnsio, and tliej have simpered their approral 
of songs and mazonrkas which they have heard a good many 
times since Christmas, and then they have parted, delight^ 
with one another, and with a life which can boast snch bright 
spots as these friendly Httle dinners. 

If there is one time more than another that seems to laj itself 
out, as it were, for a family qnarrel, that period is the empty 
htdf-honr after a dinner party. The gnests are gone, the society 
mask, worn perhaps nnoonscionslv bnt worn all the same, drops 
off. Feelings that have been held in repression during this in- 
terval of artificial existence spring back npon ns with stroDS 
rebound. The hatches have been battened down over that darS 
hold where we keep our emotions, but our bad passions thrust 
them open when society's restraining influence is withdrawn. 

Esther Eochdale pleaded fatigue, and said good night to her 
adopted mother, as soon as the ^ests were gone. *' G<>od night, 
dear auntie," she said, ** and I nope you'U go to bed very soon, 
for you're looking pale and tired — I'm afraid the sun to-day 
was too much for you." 

It had been agreed long ago that Esther should call her pro- 
tectress " Auntie.*' In aU tnings had Mrs. Standen been as a 
mother to the orphan, yet she could not bear that any lips 
except those of her own children should call her mother. 
Edmund's voice alone gave that sacred name its full sweetness, 
fond though she was of the daughter who had married, and 
made for herself new ties and a new heme. In her heart of 
hearts Edmund was as her only child. She would not for the 
world have owned to such a sentiment, setting her face, as she 
did, against all sentimentality ; nevertheless tms was the feeling 
that had governed her years ago when she taught the little 
Indian child to call her " Auntie." 

" The sun was powerful, but I don't mind fhoutt* said Mrs. 
Standen, with an mvoluntary glance at her son. 

'* What was it that bored you to-day, if it was not the heat, 
mother P " asked Edmund, when Esther was gone. 

Those troublesome emotions would not be kept any longer 
under hatches. The long dull evening, enforced severance from 
Sylvia, and the prosy conversational meanderings of Mr. Toyn* 
bee and the curate had goaded Mr. Standen almost to madness. 
He felt that it would do him good to quarrel with some one- 
even with his mother. There was no tenderness in that sacred 
name as his lips uttered it to-night. 

"I was unhappy about yon, Edmund," answered Mrs. 
Standen, with a look of pain. 

"Why should you be unhappy about me, mother P" asked 
the young man, coldly, " I can see no reason. I have alwaji 
iMen an obedient son." 



Mrs. Sianden and her Son have a Few Words- 49 

" Yon Have indeed/' said the mother, stealing a tender look 
at her darling, who was walking np and down the room with 
impatient strides. 

" And I shall be so still. Or if I cannot obey I shall at least 
know how to submit. Why should yon feel unhappy, mother P 
You have made your decision, and I am ready to abide by it. 
We can be friends all the same." 

" No, we are not the same to each other — ^we are not what we 
were a month ago." 

•* Well, there may be a little difference in our mutual satisfac- 
tion, just at first," Edmund answered with a somewhat bitter 
smile, " it takes a man some time to accustom himself to the 
idea that his mother means to disinherit him. I don't mean as 
regards the change in his prospects. That is a small tHng. But 
he has to reconcile himself to the knowledge that the mouer he 
loves can deal hardly by him." 

" Do you think it is no pain to me to deal hardly with yon, 
Edmund P" 

" If it were so painful you would scarcely do it." 

" It is for your own sake, Edmund. If my affection has no 
influence with you, I must use the power your father's will 
gave me. I would do anything to prevent this wretched 
marriage." 

" That you will never do. You can reduce me to beggary, 
but you cannot rob me of the woman I love. Nothing less than 
Fate shall do that." 

" You mean to marry Svlvia Oarew, thenP" asked the mother, 
with a desperate look. Sne could hardly believe that this idol- 
ised son could persist in his opposition to her will. She had 
entreated him with tears ; she would have gone on her knees to 
supplicate him had there been any hope of success. 

** I told you so the day before yesterday," he said moodily. 

"Yes. But some good influence might have softened your 
heart since then." 

" There is no hardness in my heart. I have only made up my 
mind to marry the one woman I can thoroughly love. Is there 
anything unnatural in a man choosing for himself P I think 
you sometimes forget, mother, that I have come to man's estate. 
X ou fancy that I am stiU a little boy protected from the risk of 
falling down stairs by a gate on the nursery landing, as I used 
to be twenty years ago." 

" I should not attempt to interfere with your choice, if it 
were rational — ^the deliberate result of sober reason — an attach- 
ment that has stood the test of time ; but to see you bent upon 
marrying a girl whom you have only known since last May; of 
whom you know positively nothing ex )ept that she has a pretty 
fiwe— •• \^ 



50 Ihhm ae the Stood. 

'* And that it is the one face upon earth for me, and that she 
lovee me, and that I love her. That's the beginning, middle^ 
and end of a love story, mother. Yon can*t improve it or take 
away from it, or add to it. No love match from the days of 
Pans and Helen ever had a longer history. One wonld think 
yon never had been in love yourself, mother, by yonr talk of 
sober reason and rational attachments." 

This careless thrast v^ent home. Mrs. Standen had dreamed 
her fond girlish dream of true love seven years before she mar- 
ried the portly banker, at the sober age of six-and-twenty. She 
had loved and been beloved, and sacrificed the tenderest hopes 
of a girl's heart upon the altar of family convenience. Should 
there not be a small stone altar in the hall of every house, as a 
symbol of that invisible shrine on which so many tender feel- 
ings are constantly being offered up before the implacable 
household Nemesis, Necessity P 

Mrs. Standen would not tell Edmund how she too had 
suffered. It would have been disrespectful te that generous 
husband who had loved and trusted her so fully. But she went 
np te her boy, and gently took his hand, and said, — 

" I know what it is to suffer, Edmund, and to be disap- 
pointed, and to own afterwards that the disappointment was a 
blessing in disguise." 

" I want no such equivocal benefits," said the young man, 
impatiently. " There's no use in arguing the point, mother. 
I mean to be a dutiful son always. Nothing can make any real 
or lasting difference in my affection for you.' But I intend to 
marry the woman I love." 

And then after settling the question thus with an air of 
supreme calm, that quarrelsome demon which had been disquiet- 
ing him more or less all the evening, broke loose in Mr. Standen's 
breast, and he exolauned, angrily,— 

" Indeed, I cannot see what substantial reason yon can have 
for objecting to the mateh. What are we that we should set 
ourselves up among the old county famiHesP'/ 

" On my side at least we have some claim to good blood," 
said Mrs. Standen, with dignity. " The Bossineys are as old 
a family as any in the West of England." 

Mrs. Standen had been a Miss Bossiney. That crumbling 
ivy-mantled vault in the churchyard enshrined the ashes of 
her ancestors. She had inherited the Worcester dinner service, 
and the Derby dessert service from the Bossineys. 

•' Like the Oopplestones and the Trelawneys, I suppose," 
replied Edmund, scornfully. ** But when we come to names, 
Oarew is as good as any." 

** A very good name for those to whom it belongs. But I 
i should question a parish schoolmaster's right to it." 



iUr#. Standen land her Bm haee • Vew Wordti 51 

r '^ Wbat, did yon never hear of a gentleman in redooed cir- 
ctimstancesP" 

" Barely of any gentleman living so obscore a life as Mr. 
GareVs, witbont some good reason for his preferring such 
obsonrity," answered Mrs. Standen^ 

** Yon are fnll of prejndioe, mother/' cvied Edmnnd, qnicken- 
ing his pace. - ^ 

" It is not prejndice, Edmund, bnl instmct. Trnst a mother's 
feeling in such a case as this. If it is hfe or death for yon, it 
is life or death for me. Wreck yonr happiness and yon wreck 
mine. I have studied that girl since I. fovind out yonr infatua- 
tion for her." 

'' A period of three or four weeks T' cried the son scornfully. 

"■ Long enough for me to find out a good deal. I have talked 
to people who know Sylvia Carew. I have been to the school 
three or'four times to see with my own eyes." 

** 'Rer character is not exposed to view in a glass case, like 
the trinkets on a jeweller's counter.". 

" She is shallow enough for me to read heri yes, to the heart 
of her mystery," answered Mrs. Standen. " Frivolous, arro- 
gant, vain — ^that is the character X hea^ of her, and what I have 
seen confirms my ii^onnants." 

** I wonder you can stoop to listea to petiy village gosuip, 
the ill-natured suggestions' of women who are envious of m^ 
Sylvia's sweet face.' 

" I have talked to s6me who are above envy. Mrs. Yancourt 
has seen a good deal of Miss Garew, and her judgment, delibe- 
rately arrived at — for she is far too good a woman to condemn 
hastily — coiuddes ynik my own instinct. That girl is not 
worthy of the sacrifice yon are going to make for her." 

" Sacrifice P" echoed Edmund. "Were I an emperor I 
should be proud to win her." 

*' If it were only a question of worldly disadvantage, if it 
were merely the dinerence in your social rank, I would cease to 
oppose you,*' said the mother, yearning to be reconciled with 
this beloved son, and feeing how wide a breach yawned between 
them. I would even say nothing about the mystery in Mr. 
Garew's life, the evident incongruity between the man and his 
position. If the girl herself were a good girl— — " 

"How dare yon say that she is anythmg less than goodP" 
cried Edmund, the long smothered mre flaming out at last. 
•' How dare you judge her — ^yon who pretend to rule your life 
by the gospel P^< 

His was another home thrust. How is any woman to justify 
^t dim foreboding fear which she calls an instinct P 

" I want yon to be happy, Edmund,** his mother said i^ite* 
onsly. 



62 Taken at the Mood. 

** I can only be bappy in my own way. I can only be liappy 
if I marry the one woman I love." 

" How can yon be sure of yonr beartP Ton are little mors 
than a boy." 

" It is all very well for you to think me that, mother; but at 
fonr-and-twenty I claim the right to consider myself a man." 

" And yon are prepared to face beggary, for the sake of this 
girlP" 



*• I am willing to resign my heritage." 
" Like Esan, said Mrs. Standen, bitterly. 



** Like Esan, if yon will, ^ Things did not go so badly with 
Esan in after life ; he had his flocks and his herds, like his more 
astute brother. No, mother, I don't mean to face beggary. I 
mean to work for my living, as many a better man nas done 
before me. I mean to succeed, God helping me, for my young 
wife's sake ; and I," with a sudden change to tenderness, " X 
look forward hopefully to the day when you will be reconciled 
to my choice, and when you will say to me, * After all, Edmund, 
a true heart is a safe counsellor.* " 

That look of affection from the young man's honest eyes, that 
tender tone deeply touched the mother. She was not usually 
demonstrative of ner softer feelings, but to-night she laid her 
head on her son's shoulder and sobbed aloud. 

" My boy," she cried, " I seem to use you hardly, when I 
love you better than my life." 

" Why, you foolish mother," said Edmund, cheerily, every 
angry feeling gone at sight of his mother's tears, " do you thiuK 
anything or anybody can alter the affection we two bear for 
each other P Do you think a paltry question of money would 
ever divide us P Do you think I love yon any less because I 
persist in my choice of a wife P A man's hearfc must be small, 
mdeed, if it is not big enough to hold wife and mother." 

"My best of sons!" murmured Mrs. Standen. "He who 
rules above us reads my heart, and knows it holds no selfish 
feeling where you are concerned. It is no personal prejudice — 
no mother's jealousy — that makes me oppose this marriage 
But you have made up your mind — why do I speak of it any 
more P Let there be no bitterness between us. I can do no 
more except pray for your happiness." 

Mrs. Standen had played her ace of trumps, and, as it were, 
thrown the card away. She had thou^t thal^ when called 
upon to wei^h the loss of his father's fortune against the grati- 
fication of his own caprice, Edmund would have hesitated to pay 
■o heavy a price for his fanc^. She saw him oaJmly resolute, 
nnmoved by the prospect of so great a sacrifice^ ready to sur- 
render his heritage as Hghtiy as if it had been one of the 
banker's silver snuff-boices— those memorialii c( the departed* 



Mrs, Sfanden mnd her Son haifd a Few Words. 58 

wUcli were pionsly preserved under a glass case on tlie chiffonier 
yonder. Sne saw her tactics fail utterly. She had never meant 
to rob her boy of the inheritance that was justly his. She had 
never meant to enrich her daughter at the cost of her son. 

She had only striven to stand between Edmund and a passion 
which that keen instinct of maternal love told her would be 
fatal 



CHAPTEE YIL 

DEB HENSCH DENKS. 

Aftek that little talk with his mother, which had begun in 
bitterness and ended in mutual pardon, Edmund Standen felt 
more at peace with himself than he had felt for some time. At 
least he and his mother fully understood each other, and Ed- 
mund felt that in taking his own road he ueed not turn his back 
u^on that dearly loved mother. It pleased him to think that he 
might begin his new life perhaps at Monkhampton, within a few 
miles of Dean House, and be able to see his mother as often as 
he liked. She should not feel herself deserted. He would take 
good care of that. Every action of his life should help to prove 
to her that even while following the bent of hia own inclination 
he was not the less her true son. 

He was in no hurry to go to bed, though it was midnight 
when he parted from Mrs. Standen at the door of her room, a 
desperately k.te hour for Dean House. The moon shone full 
upon the three tall narrow windows of his bedchamber. 

He drew up the blinds and admitted that flood of tender 
light, and he paced this room as he had paced the room below, 
thoughtfully, but no longer with angrjr thoughts. Yes, he 
would reconcile duty to his mother with this new love. The old 
tie should not be broken because the new bond was so strong. 
And by-and-by, when Mrs. Standen became resigned to the 
inevitable she would be surely kind to Sylvia. She would erect 
no barrier between the two homes. She would not exclude her 
son's wife from his father's house. 

"Time wears away all rough edges,'* he said to himself. 
•* Those two will grow fond of each other at last. And if God 
blesses BS with children by-and-by, that link will unite ns alL 
No, I ao not fear the future — and as for poverty—" 

Edmund Standen, who had never known the want of a flve« 
pound note, dismissed the thought with a careless laugh« and 
wft the sentence unfinished. 



M SUkm aithe JKooi. 

He had the plan of bill fiitnre laid down as neatlj aa ii 
been an arohitebt's specification of a villa. Of oonne the bank 
would give him a mtuation, and a salary ci, say, two hnndred 
and fifty ponnds a year to start with. He and Sylvia could 
manage delightMh" on two hundred and fifty. They would 
choose the dearest httle honse— half cottaee^ half villa — on the 
outskirts of the town, on Broomfield Hill, for instance ; a rastio 
road, from which one looked across intervening wood and 
meadow to the wide estuary of the Wet, inst where it melted 
into the sea. They would live very quietly, with that modest 
elegance which Edmund, who knew nothing about housekeepi^, 
fancied compatible with a yearly income of two hundred and 
fifty ponnds. They would have little company, for what society 
so delightful as their own.. They would live only for each other, 
and spend all their money on themselves. Edmund had the 
nucleus of a good library, books collected by himself and paid 
for with his own pocket money. He could still pursne the de- 
lightful task of collecting. His income would allow margin for 
that. And how sweet would be their evenings, when his day's 
toil was over. Summer evenings in the little garden brimmm^ 
over with sweet-scented flowers, and with at least one ^ood old 
tree for shade : a garden on the slope of that steep hill* from 
which they could watch the sun's golden cup drop down into 
the cool blue wave. Winter evenings, when they closed their 
shutters upon all the outside world, and sat by their cheerful 
hearth, and talked of all things in heaven and earth ; while the 
low minor strain of that ever murmuring sea sounded fainUy in 
thepauses of their talk. 

How sweet it would be to read aloud while his young wife 
worked. She must be fond of w6rk,> of course. All tender, 
home-loving women are. He could fancy the fair young face 
bent with a busy look above the capacious work-basket, emblem 
of matronhood. He could fancy the bright young mind expand- 
ing under his teaching. Naturally, at four-and-twenty, he 
thought himself wise enough, to teach. That, desultory isauca- 
tion, for the most part self-teaching, which had served to make 
Sylvia seem clever, would now be succeeded by the. man's 
thoughtful and logical process. .. He would shape his wife's 
xnincU write the wisdom of departed sages, 'the dreams of mighty 
poets on that fair tablet, make. herein very truth, his com|>anion, 
his second self! 

Fair vision. He looked out at thd moonlit garden^ wheiie the 
smooth lawn reflected, the shadows of the* trees like the still 
bosom of a lake. He looked dreamilyx>ntnpon this tranquil 
old-world picture, his heart throbbing fast witn the fulness of 
Ais joy, and thought of a home which shonld be bettar than 
this, for it would be shared with Sylvia. . 



Der Memek Denht. S5 

^111. ride into MonkHampton directly after breakfast to* 
morrow, and see the principal at the Bank," he said to himself 
** and m call upon Mr. Oarew in the evening. All lies cleai 
before me now, and every one in Hedingham shall know that I 
am going to marry Sylvia Carew." And thns, supremely satis- 
fied with his prospects, Mr. Standen went to bed. 

'* I wonder, by the way, if Esther Bochdale knows anythi)}g 
about my engagement^" he thought, as he dropped asleep. 

• • • • • • 

The world looked very fair to Edmund Standen next morning 
when he went down to join in those household prayers which 
prefaced the eight o'clock breakfast at Dean House. Tho 
panelled parlour, where the dark oak panelling had been painted 
white by some cheerful-mi/ ded Groth, had a bright fresh look 
in the morning sunshine. The carefally*appointed table, with 
its spotless damask, centr^i bowl of flowers, and old-fashioned 
silver urn, invited appetite. The sideboard, with its corps de 
reserve of ham and sirloin, supported the picture. Windows 
open to the ^ound made the flower garden almost a part of 
the room. Birds were singing their morning hymns of saluta- 
tion to the sunshine and the earth. A veil of summer mist stiU 
floated above the dewy grass. 

Esther Eochdale was alone in the room when Edmund 
entered it. She was standing in one of the open windows, 
looking thoughtfully at the garden, >Yith that fixed look which 
sees nothing, lost m a ^erie that seemed pensive. But she 
greeted Edmund with a cordial smile, nevertheless, as thev 
shook hands. Before his German exile they had kissed eacn 
other at morning and evening. But when he came home from 
the grand tour Mr. Standen found no kiss on his adopted sister s 
lips, though her^elcome was one of the tenderest ; and he felt 
somehow that the days of those boy and girl salutations were 
<y?6r. 

She was his junior by five years, and looked younger than 
she was, so dehcately slender was the figure, so youthful tiie 
small features, and innocent expression of the pale oval face. 

It was a face whose distinctive charm was sweetness, placid, 
pensive even to melancholy, at times. In Miss Eochdale the 
stranger would never discover the young lady of independent 
means. Indeed, so sentle was her manner, so unselfish her 
every thought, that she had often been mistaken for the meek 
object of Mrs. Standen's bountjr. " So good of Mrs. Standen 
to keep that poor little thing, Miss Eooh(&le," people had said* 
surprised when they heard that the " poor little thing " pos- 
sessed an inalienable income of six hundred a vear. 

Tet it must not be supposed that Miss Bochdalewas one ol 



66 2hken at the Mood. 

those timid asd insipid young persons who cannot say Bo to 
the various geese of their acquaintance. Beneath that cahn 
and gentle exterior there beat a heart capable of heroic deeds ; 
that ample forehead indicated a mind that could think high 
thoughts. Esther Bochdale had formed her own opinion of men 
and books even at nineteen years of age. She had read and 
thoaght a great deal in the tranquil life at Dean House, which 
gave so much leisure for study, as well as for all manner of un- 
selfish acts. Miss Brochdale was Mr. Yancourt's most valued 
assistant among the poor, and did more work than his three 
daughters got through among them; yet people hardly ever 
heard her name in Dorcas clubs, or saw it figure in a subscrip- 
tion list. What her right hand gave from her ample income 
waa hardly known to her left hand. 

** How bright you look this morning, Edmund," she said, 
while they stood at the window waiting for Mrs. Standen, and 
the bell which assembled the orderly household every morning 
as the clock strack eight. The hall clock had never finished 
striking before the shrill clang of the bell began. ''That 
cloudy look has gone which I've noticed so often lately." 

" My dear girl," answered Edmund cheerfuU;^, " a secret is 
just one of those things that my mental constitution cannot 
stand. I've been suffering lately from the oppression of a secret." 

"You, Edmund," cried Esther, with an incredulous look; 
" why, I thought no secret ever crossed the threshold of Dean 
House. Don't the very hoT?semaids tell Auntie or me everything 
that happens to them P But the secret — what secret can you 
have, from your mother above all people P" 

** It has not been a secret from my mother for the last three 
days. I told her all about it on Tuesday." 

" Was that what made her so unhappy P She was crjring in 
her own room the day before yesterdaVf and even yesterday 
before she dressed to go out. I saw the traces of tears both 
times. Oh, Edmund, what could you have done to make her so 
unhappy P Was it anything in Germany P If it was any 
trouble about money you ought to know that my resources are 
Ot your disposaL" 

»he had a dim idea that Germany was populated by gamblers 
—that Edmund might have become the prey of those harpies. 

" You dear innocent Esther !" cried Edmund* touched by her 
goodness. " It is nothing about money matters, and if it were, 
do you think I would be so mean a hound as to trade upon your 
benevolence P My secret related to a subject much nearer to my 
heart than worldly wealth, for you know I hold that lightly, 
added the young man with a lofty air. 

" But how oould yon be io unkind as to make Auntie un 
happy P** 



Let Menseh Denht. ^7 

^ She chose to make herself so, Esther. That was no work 
of mine. But my mother and I are both contented now. The 
little dond has blown away for ever, and I think she be^ns to 
understand that there is one crisis in a man's life in which he 
must be his own master." 

The girl looked np at him wonderingly, or with something 
more than mere wonder, a blank strange look. 

" What is that crisis, Edmnnd P " she asked quietly, that 
strange look passing swiftly as a flicker of the sunlight across 
the flower-beds. 

" When he finds himself for the first time in his life honestly, 
deeply, lastingly in love." 

There was a little pause, just about the duration of an electric 
shock. In that moment Esther's cheek paled ever so slightly, 
her lips moved faintly, a look of pain came into the dark earnest 
eyea. But that look was very brief; and lovers are egotistical. 
£dmund saw nothing till those sweet lips gave him a friendly 
smile, while the two little hands were raised to his arm, and 
rested there with gentle aflection. 

" Anything that makes you happy must make me glad, Ed- 
mund," she said tenderly. " But I nope this love is a wise one. 
Yet, if it were, it would hardly make your mother unhappy." 

" O, my mother has her own scheme for my existence 1 have 
no doubt, and would like me to have fallen in love to order, as 
it were." 

A look of pain, much keener than the last, came into Esther's 
face; but she was looking downward, and Edmund was not 
watching her closely. He was thinlang of his own wrongs. 
There was forgiveness between him and his mother, but the 
sense of soreness still lingered. The wound was in process of 
healing, but not healed. 

" As to the wisdom of my choice," he said presently, " that's 
a jargon of outsiders which never yet applied to true love. A 
man is not wise in these matters. He obeys his destiny, with- 
out stopping to consider whether the woman he loves has money 
in consols, or connections whose influence may assist his career. 
He loves because he loves. I don't suppose the Hedingham 
gentry, with their narrow notions and petty maxims, will alto* 
gether approve my choice. But I have chosen where my heart 
told me to <dioose, and I care not a doit for the opinion of the 
wiseacres who may call me a fool." 

"Nor for your mother's opinion, Edmund P" said Esther; 
'* yet I should have thought there could be no event in your life 
in which that would not influence you." 

** Haven't I told you that in affairs of the heart a man must 

je for himself P Pshawl child, what do you know about it F 

''ait till yon are over head and ears in love with aomfi -^00^1^% 




58 Taken at ihe Mood. 

^ntleman from Oxford or Sandhurst, and then^ see How mtibk 
Anntie's grave aiitrice will wei^h ap^ainst the fasoinations of your 
admirer. Yon mustn't take the side of worldly wisdom, Esther. 
I have counted on your influence to soften my mother's heart 
towards Sylvia." 

" Sylvia," exclaimed Esther, with a look of horror, ** Sylvia 
Carew I " 

" I know of no other Sylvia in this part of the country," an- 
swered Edmund coolly ; '* the name is uncommon.'' 

" You — care for — ^l\ia Carew. The schoolmaster's pretty 
daughter I" 

*' And my future wife^" said Edmund, with dignity. ** I hope 
you have nothing to say against herP " 

** O Edmund, now could you ever make such a fatal choice P " 

" Fatal I You and my mother will drive me distracted be- 
tween you. Fatal ! At the mention of Sylvia's name you both 
go into heroics — and sigh — and open your eyes wide — and talk 
about fatality — just as if I were a member ef the house of Laius, 
and doomed to break the canonical table of affinities. In plain 
words, Esther, what have you to say against Miss Carew P 

"Not much, certainly,' said Esther, with her accustomed 
placidity, " I have thought ker vain — and ill-tempered; but that 
may have been my mistake." 

" Vain — well, I daresay she knows she is the prettiest woman 
in Hedingham. lU-tempered — there I know you are mistaken." 

He thought of Sylvia's sweet smile — ^the upward look of those 
melting hazel eyes. Ill-tempered with such eyes, and such a 
smile I How these women slander one another ! 

"Perhaps I have judged her too hastily, Edmund. Yet I 
hardly think I can have been wrong," repued Esther, meekly. 
" I have seen her slap the poor little children." 

"Seen her slap the poor Uttle children," echoed Edmund, 
Bcornfally. " If you had as much of the poor little children as 
Sylvia has I don't suppose you'd refrain from an occasional tap. 
xou go into the school-house once or twice a week in your dileU 
ta/nti fashion, just when the humour takes you ; ana then you 
set yourself up as a judge, and pronounce sentence upon Sylvia, 
who has to endure the plague of those brats every day of her 
life." 

Esther did not remind him that she did her work in the 
Sunday school regularly, and walked from Dean House to Hed- 
ingham to do it, in rain or sunshine, from year's end to year's 
•no, whether the humour did or did not seize her— 4;hat she dis- 
regarded headache, and neuralgia, and all the pains to which 
humanity is subject, when duty eidled. She only answered him 
with a hardly audible sigh. 



GHAFTEB TIIL 

GOR LEHKT. 

** Hkbb eomes mj mother," said Edmnnd, as the rustle of Mrs. 
Standen's dress sounded on the staircase. The beU danged out 
its sammoiis at the same moment. 

**Yrhj, how ^e yon look, child 1"* said Mrs. Standen, as 
idle kissed her adopted danghter. 

"Do I, dear Anntie P IVe been in the garden a good whiles 
and the morning is rather snltry. It hius given me a slight 
headache.^ 

'*Poor little head, so busy and thonghtfnl for others," said 
Mrs. Standen, smoothing the girl's soft dark hair from the calm 
brow. 

Mother and son kissed each other in the old hearty fiishion. 
The clond was quite gone. It had melted in those passionate 
tears wrung from the mother's wounded heart. 

Fiye women servants came filing in. There was no indoor 
man at Dean House. Mrs. Standen loved the neat-handed 
Phillises of her own trainiuff, but would not have consented to 
be domineered over by a billed butler. The cook, and Mr& 
Standen's confidential maid, both elderly women, and three 
buxom girls, parlour, house, and laundiy maid, comprised the 
Dean House establishments 

Prayers were read, and the morning chapter, and breakflist 
began. Mrs. Standen had hardly taken her place in front of the 
urn when a shrill peal from the ffate bell startled them all.^ This 
was esscntiallv the visitors' bell. All tradesmen, and beings of 
an inferior order, save the postman or an occasioaal straisigeri 
entered by the stable gates. 

'^Whocanit be so early P*' exclaimed Edmund, thinking of 
Sylvia. Gould she be ill, or in trouble of any kind P Had she 
sent for himP 

' The parlour maid brought in one oi those ominons yellow- 
oovered messages which stnke terror to some simple hearts. It 
was before the days of postal telegtaphs. This had been brought 
frcmi Monkhampton by special messenger. 

'^ Half-a-ciown to payi please, ma'am," said the pttrlour maid, 
laying the document by Mrs. Standen's plate, "and will yon 
please sign the tapjsfFto say whenit^came.^' 

The siffht of tnat bilious-nued eiiv«lopeaffitated Mrs. Standen. 
Telegm^c messc^es were rare at Dean Mouse. She looked at 
the paper helplessly. 

** Xiet me do it for you, mother,** said Edmund, looking at hi 



60 Taken of the Mooi. 

watoh. The telegram could not be from Sylvia, bo lie felt quite 
comfortable about its contents. Let the universe crumble, she 
was safe. 

He scrawled tbe lequired figures on tbe paper, fisbed balf-a« 
crown from tbe loose treasury in bis waistcoat pocket, and gave 
paper and coin to tbe servant, wbile bis motber read tbe 
message. 

" Wbat's it all about, motber P" he asked, apprehending no 
calamity. But bis motber bad grown deadly pale, and handed 
him tbe telegram without a word. 

" From Hanside and Fengross, Gray's Inn, to Mrs. Standen, 
Dean House, near Hedingbsun. 

** Sad news from Demerara by mail arrived last night. A 
friend telegraphed to us from Southampton. Mr. Saraent 
died suddenly of heart disease on tbe fifteenth of June. Mrs. 
Sargent seriously ilL Some one ought to go to her at once, if 
possible. Her brother would be best, as he could arrange busi- 
ness matters. We fear that Mr. Sargent's a£SEdrs are left in a 
far from satisfactory condition. The mail steamer for St. 
Thomas leaves Southampton at noon to-morrow. Letter to 
follow." 

"Poor George — ^in tbe very prime of life — only siz-and- 
thirty — and to be cut off suddenly," murmured Mrs. Standen, 
in tears. 

** Ob, Auntie, what has happened P" asked Esther. 

" George Sargent is dead. And to think of my dear girl, 
alone in a strange country. What are we to do, Edmund P How 
can I ask you to go to her P " 

She thought of bis infatuation — would he tear himself away 
irom tbe land that held Sylvia Carew, even to succour a widowed 
sister P 

" Need you ask me to do my duty, mother P *' demanded the ^ 
young man quietly. " Of course I shall go to Demerara. Poor 
George I One of tbe best fellows in the world, but I fear by no 
means prudent. I daresay he has left his affairs in a state of 
muddle. Don't cry, dear motber. We'll send Ellen a telegram 
to say that I shall follow it as fast as the steamer will let me. I 
shall go up to London by the one o'clock express, and start foft 
St. Thomas by tbe mail to-morrow." 

" How good, how noble you are, Edmund!" exclaimed Mrs. 
Standen, to whose maternal mind this self-abnegation seemed 
almost Eoman heroism. 

" I'm not afraid to leave Hedingham, mother," the young man 
said in a lower voice, for his moth^s ear only, " 1 can trust in 
your honour, and have no fear that you will use your influence 
^o part Sylvia and me while my bac£ is turned." 

*' Nq, Edmund, I am not base enough for that. I will go and 



Gott Zenke. 61 

0ee her, if yon like," with a great effort, " while yon are away» 
and try to like her.'* 

" Do, dear mother. You have hut to know her in order to 
love her." 

Edmund looked at his watch. It was not quite nine. He had 
three clear hours in which to hid Sylvia farewell, and speak to 
Mr. Carew. He was resolved to leave nothing unsettled. His 
engagement to Sylvia mtc^. be an established fact before he left 
Hedingham. 

" What shall I do without you, Edmund P" said the mother 
with a sigh, while he tried to hurry through his breakfast, 
eating and drinking mechanically. 

" Come, dear mother ihere's no occasion for despondency. I 
need not be away morf, than three months, at most. Sir weeks 
for the voyage to and fro, and a month or so at Demerara. I am 
to bring Nelly back with me, I suppose P ** 

" Of course. What should she stay there for, poor child P 
She will have a pension, I suppose, but very little besides, if 
George has died in debt. He was always so reckless, and counted 
so much upon his expectations from his uncle the General. And 
now the uncle has outlived the nephew. How sad ! " 

** VitcB summa hrevis spem nos vetat inchoare longam,** 
muttered Edmund. "It's dull work waiting for dead men's 
shoes." 

'* Tell your poor sister that she still has a home here, Edmund 
— ^that she need think of no other." 

** And the children," enquired Edmund, with a wry face : 
** are they to come here too P Let me see — there are three of 
them, aren't there P I think the last was the third." 

"You might do something more than think about the 
number of your only sister's children," said Mrs. Standen, 
reproachfully. 

" They come so fast, one hasn't time to get a fixed idea about 
them. Well, I'll bring her home, mother, uttle ones and all. I 
don't suppose you'll quite like their sticky paw marks upon the 
mahogany furniture or their broken toys m the corners of all 
the rooms. But they'U help to amuse you and Esther when 1 
am gone." 

He spoke cheerily, to comfort his mother: yet there was a 
weight of sadness at his heart notwithstanding. Three months 
— ^three long months — in which he and Sylvia were to he 
parted. 

" How I shall yearn for one touch of that little hand, and 
how I shall pine for my dove," he thought. " And how often 
in too delusive dreams I shall fancy her near me ,* only to awake 
to the bitter pain of separation." 

Br made short work of his breakfast, and started \3.^^^ 



62 Taken ai the Flood. 

with, an apology to bis mother and Efftihert to twt oat tn 
Hedingliam. ' 

" Yon^ get my portmanteau packed, won't yon, motherf ** 
he asked. " You needn't have mncli put in as I haven't thek 
right kind of clothes for a tropical dimate. Ill go' to an out- 
fitter in Gomhill and get properly rigged out. Yon can order 
the doe-cart for half-past Welre, and hare Idie portmanteau put 
in. I^ be hack by that tine." *. 

" Are yon going to Hedmgham P '* 

'' Yes, I am going to have a little' talk with niy future father- 
in-law." 

Mrs. Standen shuddered. It was bad enough to think of 
Sylvia as a daughter-in-law, but it was worse to think of Sylvia's 
fiather. The village schoolmaster! The man who had forty 
pounds a year, withva house to live in, coals and candles. It 
was too dreadful to think' idiat this humble official would by-and- 
b^ have a right to enter Dean House, would be a relation to its 
mistress by marria«^e. 

** And the man K>ok8 and talks like a gentleman," thought 
Mrs. Standen. ** That's the worst part of the business. There 
must be some good rmson for burying himself alive at Hed- 
ingham." 

^ She sighed, not yet reconciled to the idea of her son's mar- 
riage ; although, moved by a sudden impulse of gratitude and 
generosity, she had just now promised to visit Sylvia. She 
looked at Esther's earnest face, which was turned towards her, 
full of tender compassion. She looked and thought, with a 
sharp pang, of a hope which she had cherished for years, and 
abandoned only a few days affO. Tears came into her eyes, and 
she turned away her head wiui a sigh. 

** Dearest Auntie, why are you so unhappy P" asked the girl 
affectionately. " Is it about poor Mrs. Sargent." 

** No, my dear. It is about my son. He has made up his 
mind to marry." 

" Against your wish. I know all about it, Auntie. Edmund 
told me this morning." 

Mrs. Standen turned towards her with a look of sharpest 
scrutiny, " And you are not ancry with him for such a choice P** 

" Why should I be angiy P All that I have to wish for is that 
he may be happy— and if he can be happy with Sylvia Oarew, 
what does it matter that she is not his equal in social position P 
She is really very ladylike in her style and appearance, and 
better educated than you might expect" , . ' . 

" If he can be happy," repeated Mrs. Standen, with intensity. 
■• Yes, Esther, it is that * if ^ which troubles me." 



OELAPTEBIX 

■TIiYIA AT HOMl. 

Hedinoham looked its brightest in the morning snnsMne as 
Edmnnd Standen walked along the little street in the valley, 
where the brawling brook ran merrily in front of the cottage 
and gardens, and under the green hedges, across which an inqni- 
eitiye old white horse, or a comfortable-looking cow, red like the 
rich loam of the valley, sometimes thrust a big dumsy head, 
with half stupid, half enquiring eyes. 

The churchyard wore its accustomed aspect of shady repose^ 
as Edmund crossed it by the familiar foot- way that led to the 
old school-house. A shrill clamour of juyenile voices sounded 
through the open windows ; for Mr. Carew*s scholars worshipped 
Minerva and the Muses somewhat noisily. The old, old school- 
house, for which Mr. Yancourt, the vicar, was anxious to substi- 
tute a smart sothic erection, had a certain rustic picturesqueness 
of aspect likdy to be wanting in the modem buildiug. House- 
leek and stonecrop grew undisturbed on the time-blackened 
thatch, which sloped steeply down to the very windows of the 
school-room and parlour. The upper story was entirely formed 
by that sloping roof, the bed chambers all angles, with latticed 
dormers peeping out of the thatch. The indetinable charm of 
antiquity pervaded the building. The cob walls, faced with 
crinkly-looKing plaster, were half-hidden under the rich growth 
of century-old myrtles and climbing roses, the half-acre of 
garden, where flowers and vegetables grew side by side in 
brotherly love, was bright with hoUyhocks and carnations, big 
hoary lavender bushes breathing their sweet perfume on the. 
summer air, the scarlet blossoms of the humble bean, the gray- 
bine bloom of the onion. 

To Edmund, this morning, the school-house seemed a deli- 
cious dwelling-place. He thought of the steamer, and the long 
weary voyage to Demerara, and longed to stay here and loiter 
away a tranquil existence in endless joy, instead of doing his 
duty in that state of life which Providence had assigned to him. 

" If all other trades fail, I can turn schoolmaster," he re- 
flected. " I wouldn't mind teaching stupid boys half the day, 
if I could spend the other half with Sylvia." 

He opened the door which commxmicated with that part of 
the school-house appropriated to Mr. Ogrew's residence. This 
door opened straight into the parlour, a fair-sized room, poorly 
furnished but neatly kept, and displaying some little atte mp t at 
embellishment which looked like Sylvia's handiwork. White 
muslin curtains draped the two low latUoed c»a^xck!^\^A« %.ii^'^ ^ 



kh 



M Taken ai the Flood. 

ftower-potfl screened the window that faced the snn, a few cheap 
prints decorated the walls, a flowered chintz cover concealed the 
shabbiness of a decrepid sofa ; three rows of books on hanging 
shelves and a smart china inkstand and desk on a little table 
brightened the recess by the fireplace; a pair of green glasf 
candlesticks and a cracked china vase adomea the hi^h chimney* 
piece. It was not the room of a slovenly honsewife, and Mr. 
ptanden looked round him with admiring eyes. If his betrothed 
imparted grace even to snch poor surronndinj^s, what a charm 
would she lend to the fair home he hoped to give her. 

Sylvia was busy in the adjoining room — a very small kitchen 
--for Mr. Carew's pittance did not allow him to keep a servant, 
and his daughter had to manage the household work as best she 
might. Happily for him she managed it deftly — kept their 
poor rooms the pink of cleanliness — cooked the epicure s small 
dinner to his perfect satisfaction — never left pails of water or 
empty lugs standing in his way — rose with tne birds, and got 
through all the rough part of the work before the Hedingham 
gentry had left their pillows, in order that no one should see her 
in her common cotton gown, with sleeves tucked up to the 
shoulders. Happily for her own peace of mind the work of 
cleaning those few rooms was not enough to redden or roughen 
her pretty hands and arms. She had contrived to minister to 
her father from the time she was twelve years old, without 
injury to her growing loveliness. Indeed, her beauty may have 
been improved by that enforced activity which preserved the 
fresh bloom of her cheek, and the liquid brightness of her eyes. 

She heard the sound of the opening door, and her lover's 
footsteps, and came out of the kitchen, where she had been pre- 
paring the remains of yesterday's chicken for to-day's dinner. 
The happy look which Edmund knew so well flashed into her 
face at sight of him, and then changed curiously to a look of 
fear. 

" My darling, what is the matter P" he asked, folding her in 
his arms. 

"You have come to tell papa," she said, "and I am 
frightened. I know he will be disagreeable — insult you, per- 
haps, if you tell him your mother's determination. Why not 
leave him in the dark, Edmund P Just ask his permission to 
marry me, and no more." 

"My pet, you ask me to do a dishonourable thing,'' 
Answered Edmund, kissing her fair forehead at the end of 
bin sentence, lest the reproach should seem too severe ; " and 
Oven if I tried to deceive your &ther I should most likely fail. 
Re would ask for a settlement^ or something of that kind, which 

I could hardly get from a pauper." 

Sylvia BhxKldered at the word. It is hard to bid good-b78 



salvia at Home, 65 

to one's brightest dream, and Sylvia's had been the fancy that 
she had won the lover she loved, and a rich husband, in Edmund 
Standen. 

"I must tell Mr. Oarew the truth, dear, and I can't tell 
it too soon," said Edmund firmly. " But I'm sorry to say I've 
more bad news for you this mommg." 

"Bad news I How can you have bad news? What more 
can your mother rob you of r " 

"My bad news does not concern our fortunes, Sylvia, but. 
our parting. I am going away from Hedingham for three 
months." 

The girl's cheek paled, but no tear clouded those brilliant 
eyes. She looked at him fixedly — ^her lips quivering. 

" You have changed your mind — you are going to give me 
np * " she said* 

" Give you up, when I am here to ask your father for your 
hand ; to give hmi formal notice of our engagement." 

" What IS to part us then P " 

" Duty, Sylvia, which calls me far away." 

He told ner about the news from Demerara, and his im- 
mediate departure. Sylvia pouted and looked disconsolate. 
She had no sympathy with an unknown widow, above all 
when that widow was the very person for whose benefit her 
lover was to be robbed of his rightful inheritance. 

" It seems hard that you should be obliged to go, Edmund," 
she said. " One would think your sister might find some one 
else to settle her affairs and bring her back to England, that is 
to say if she wants an escort. I thought married women were 
independent, and could do everything for themselves." 

" But think of her trouble, Sylvia — her husband so suddenly 
snatched away from her. They had been married six years, and 
it was a real love-match. I never knew people more attached 
to each other." 

"What took them to Demerara?" asked Sylvia, still dis- 
consolate. 

" George was a barrister, with a very fair practice when he 
married, and he and my sister lived as happily as a pair of 
turUe-doves, in a pretty uttle house at South Kensington. But 
two years ago he got a judgeship in Demerara. It was too 
good to refuse, so off they started, to my mother's regret. When 
they were in England they used to spend a month with us every 
autumn.** 

" Of course," thought Sylvia, " scheming to cheat you out of 
▼our fortune." ^ 

" Sylvia," said Edmund earnestly, " this parting won't make 
any ifference in your love, will it P You mean to be true to 



66 Ikken at the Mood. 

Tho lovfng eyes looked np at him, the littld Lands clasped 
his. What need was there of any further answer? 

*' I love you too dearly to change," she said, and then added 
meditatively, ** I sometimes wish I didn't.** 

** But why, my own one ? " 

" Because I don't think our love is lucky for either of ui. 
What has it ^ven you but trouble in the present? What does 
it promise us in the future?" 

" Happiness, darling. Happiness, which is not to be gauged 
by the measure of a man's banking account. Trust your late 
to me, and we will be happy together, rich or poor. Already 
the clouds are lifting. My mother and I had a confidential talk 
last night, which ended pleasantly. She loves me with all her 
onselfish heart, dear sout in spite of her prejudices. And she 
will learn to love you too, my pet, in good time. She has 
even promised to come and see you while I am away.** 

"Even," repeated Sylvia, with ever so faint a sneer, "I'm sure 
I ought to be grateful for so much condescension.** 

" You'll receive her kindly, Sylvia, for my sake.** 

"I would do anything for your sake,** said the girl fondly. 
She was swifter in ner changes of mood than an April sky. 

"And you will be constant, Sylvia?'* 

" I cannot help being constant. I never loved any one but 
you, and to the end of my life I shall love yon, and yon only.** 

And she meant it. 



CHAPTER X. 

A HTTHIIIATING BEJECTIOK. 

Edmund Standen's interview with Mr. Carew was far from 
iJatisfactory. His candour evoked no responsive generosily 
from the scoolmaster. 

" If your mother means to disinherit you, and yon have to 
begin the world without a sixpence, I can*t see that my daughter 
will better her position by marrying you," said James Uarew 
dryly. 

He had left his rough gang of scholars to their own devices, 
and come into the parlour, whither Sylvia had summoned him, 
and whence she had fled, leaving her lover to fight his battle as 
lest he might. 

" We love each other," pleaded Edmund. 

" That's a boy and fpxl reason. But I csannot see that mutual 



A BwmtliMng B&feeiion. 07 

affection is sufficient ground for mutual starvation. To talk 
about marriage now» with your way to make in thd world, is a 
sheer absurdity. Come to me by-and-by when you are able to 
keep a wife, and I may be able to give you a more favourable 
answer." 

" I don't ask your consent to an immediate marriage," replied 
Edmund. ** I am willing to wait a few months. By the end of 
that time I hope to have won a secure income and a home fopr 
my wife. She has not been accustomed to splendour or luxury," 
he added, with a glauce at the homely parlour, "and she wDl 
know how to manage matters upon a moderate income." 

" She has been accustomed to the sharpest poverty," answered 
Mr. Carew, '* but that is no reason why she should endure its 
stings to the end of her days. So lovely a girl as my daughter 
ought to improve her position by marriage." 

** Which means that you would sell her to the highest bidder," 
said Edmund bitterly 

" Nothing of the kind. It only means that I will never give 
my consent to her marriage with a man who has less than a 
thousand a year of fixed income. That is little enough for t^e 
wants of modern life," added Mr. Carew, witli as grand an air 
as if he had never existed upon smaller means. 

" Then I am to understand that you refuse your consent P " 
Raid Edmund, pale with anger. 

"Absolutely." 

" And whatever influence you have with yonr daughter will 
be used to prevent her marrying me P " 

"Decidedly." 

•'Very weD, Mr. Carew. I am bound, however, to inform you 
that I do not believe your daughter will abide by your decision 
in this matter." 

" There she must please herself," answered the schoolmaster 
coolly ; " I can only try to prevent her throwing herself away 
but if she has set her heart or her mind, whichever it is that 
goveiuB a woman's impulses, u^n marrjdng a beggar, 1 
cannot help it. I can only forbid you my house," ne con- 
eluded, as loftily as if the low-ceiled parlour had been a 
mansion. 

" You need not trouble yourself to do that," replied Edmund, 
" this is the first time I have crossed your threshold, and it shall 
be the last. I only came here to-day because I had a duty to 
perform." 

" Oh! It was your duty to tell me, after you had stolen my 
daughter's heart," said the schoolmaster. 

Edmund did not reply to the taunt, though it wounded him 
It was Sylvia's fault that he had not made this commnnicatior 
looner. He could not tell her father that. 



k 



TaJsen at tie Flood. 

**1 Am going to leave England for some time on family 
business," ne said qnietly, " will you allow me to bid Sylvia 
good-bye P" 

" I will allow notbing of tbe kind. I will countenance no 
manner of communication between you. If sbe choose to dis- 
obey me, let ber take the consequences of her own act, and do 
penance for her folly in a garret or a gutter. I shall not 
pity her." 

" And I shall think I do a good action in removing her from 
the custody of suoV a father," exclaimed Edmund angrily. 

**Good morning, sir," said the schoolmaster, opening the 
door ; " my pupils are clamorous, and I must return to them." 

Edmund gave him a haughty bow and went out, his bosom 
b^elling with indignation. Wnat would be said in Hedingham 
should it be known that he had sued for the schoolmaster s 
daughter, and been contemptuously refused? His heart beat 
high with wounded pride. 

He was sufficiently provincial to consider himself of some 
importance, lightly as he might affect to regard the difference 
between his rank and Sylvia's when he pleaded love's cause with 
Mrs. St&nden. He felt that in his person the respectability of 
the Standen family had been outraged. 

In this little burst of resentment he had almost forgot Sylvia 
and love. He was crossing the churchyard, and had just reached 
a spot where the shade of cypress and yew was deepest, an un- 
frectuented nook by the ivy-mantled tomb of the Bossiney s, when 
a light step sounded behmd him, and presently Sylvia's hands 
were clasped upon his arm. 

" Edmund,^ould you leave me without SBying good-bye P " 

Anger fled at the sound of that voice. He looked down at 
his betrothed with the old loving look, mingled with sadness. 

"My dearest, it would have half broken my heart to part 
thus, but I had no time for lingering, and your father forbad my 
seeing you." 

** My father. I don't care a straw for my father's commands 
where you are concerned. I think I should have run all the 
way to Monkhampton, under the hot sun, to catch you at the 
station, if I hadn't overtaken you here. But I have caught you. 
Stop a minute, Edmund, in this dark shade, and give me one 
1001% kiss before you go, and tell me once more, one little once, 
that you love me. 

The kiss and the assurance of affection were repeated a good 
many times. " God bless and guard you, my sweet wife in the 
days to come," said Edmund tenderly. 

The words 8;fcartled Sylvia, and she looked up at him curi- 
coBly. It was the first time he had ever caOed her by that 



J. SumliaHny BefeciiotL 00 

** ToTir wife 1 *' she repeated. ** Do you tlimk it will aver h% 
Edmund?'* 

"What, sweetest P** 

" Our marriage. You see there are two people to hinder % 
Mrs. Standen and papa. Perhaps they will put their heads 
together and plot against us." 

** My mother plot. For shame, Sylvia I *• 

" You needn't be offended. I said papa too; Fm sure 7^*«not 
above plotting. Everything seems a^amst us. This voyage to 
Demerara for instance, as sudden as if you had received a sum- 
mons from some one in the moon. Do you honestly think we 
shall ever be married, Edmund P** 

" Yes, my own love. If we are but true to each other.** 

He kissed her once again, and this time it was verily the 
parting kiss, for the great hoarse bell of the church clock boomed 
out twelve heavy strokes, till the air round them seemed to 
tremble, the stalwart cypress to shiver. 

" Be true to me, darling,'* he cried, with almost despairing 
fondness, " be true to me, as God knows I shall be true to you." 
Then with a desperate wrench he put her from him, and hurried 
away, blinded by tears his manhood was ashamed of. Good-bye 
was a word he had not courage to utter, and so he left her 
leaning despondently upon the tomb* of the Bossineys; not 
weeping — tears with Sylvia were rare — but breathing languid 
sighs for the loss of so true a lover. 

" How dull the place will seem without him.*' she thought 
dejectedly. 



CHAPTER XI. 

BIB AT7BBET IB INTEBESTED. 

The fancy fair had been a great success. Such a fund had been 
raised as justified Mr. Yancourt in bringing a Monkhampton 
architect to survey the existing school-house, with a view to fur- 
nishing plans and specifications for a better one on the same 
site. 

The Yicar and one of his daughters drove into the market 
town on the afternoon of that day in which Edmund Standen 
bade a reluctant farewell to Hedingham and all that it con- 
tained; the Yicar intent on business. Miss Mary Yancourt 
intent on the shop windows, which offered the wealth of the 
newest fashions to the feminine gaze. 



70 Ihken ai the Mood. 

" Ob, look, papa, at tiiose fnnnj brown and yellow stripes,* 
sbe exclaimed, ao sbe walked tbe fat pony at a funeral pace past 
tbe sbowy windows of Mr. Ganzlein, tbe great Monkbampton 
draper. "Tbose are to be all tbe rage tbis year. Florence 
Toynbee told me so, and yon know sbe bas a cousin in Paris. 
Tbey're ugly, but ratber stylisb. I tbink I sball bave one." 

Mr. Vanconrt gazed witb indifferent eye upon tbe splendours 
of Granzlein's. Tbe last importation of cuffs and collars — 
** sets " as they were called at Granzlein's — from Paris or Spital- 
fields. Tbe Ayrsbire sewed work. Tbe more costly industry of 
Madeira's convents. Tbe lustrous silks. Tbe dainty umbrellas. 
He was riding bis own bobby, tbe gotbic scbool-bouse, and bacj 
no sympathy witb bis daughter's aspirations, which always tooV 
tbe direction of millinery. 

" Drive a li#tle faster, my dear," be said briskly. " I wap^ ^ 
catch Mr. Spilby before be leaves his office." 

Mr. Spilby was the architect, who to tbe strictly prolr^onal 
and sBstnetic pursuit of architecture conjoined tbe more peren- 
nially profitable business of an auctioneer and house-agent. He 
bad a Httle office abutting on tbe High Street of Monkbampton, 
at a sharp comer, over against a pump, and where two smaller 
streets branched off from the main thoroughfare, a situation, 
in fact, which was considered one of the best in Monk* 
kampton. 

" You can wait here for me, my dear," said Mr. Vanconrt, as 
the pony drew up before Mr. Spilby's plate-glass door — a smart 
looking office was Mr. SpUby's, oeautified witb framed and 
glazed views of villas and country seats for sale or hire, houses 
wbrf:8e architectural attractions were enhanced, or set off, by 
pretematurally vivid verdure, and a tropical sky. " You can 
wait, Marv, while I speak a word or two to Mr. Spilby. I 
shan't be five minutes." 

Miss Yancourt gave a little sigh, knowing that under such 
circumstances the Vicar's five minutes meant half an hour. But 
she breathed no remonstrance, and settled herself in the com- 
fortable little pony carriage, with her sun umbrella held so that it 
should shade ner sufficiently, and yet not prevent her seeing and 
being seen. Monkbampton, at four o'clock in tbe afternoon, 
was quite a lively place. Three or four carriages, of tbe barouche 
or landau tribe, might be seen in tbe High Street, between four 
and five, while pony carriages and the lesser fry of vehicles were 
abundant. 

As Miss Vanconrt knew nearly every one who passed sbe was 
not without amusement. Now wafting a kiss from tbe tips of 
her gloved fingers to the occupants of a landau — now nodding 
Vd a fair charioteer in a pony carriage — ^now exchanging a few 
Msds witb pedestrians who stopp^ to ebake bands, make • 



Sir Aubrey U Interetied, 71 

remark or two npon the weather, and enquire with solicitude 
about the health of the Yancourt family, as if, when last heard 
o^ they had been almost moribund. 

Miss Yancourt stifled a little yawn after exchanging several 
such greetings, a yawn which may have been caused by the 
heat of the afternoon or the dullness of her acquaintance. 

"I wish I could have stopped opposite Ganzlein's," she 
thought ; " I could have had a good look at the new fashions. 
I might have bought a pair of gloves to keep me in counte- 
nance." 

She looked at her watch, and discovered that the Yicar*s five 
minutes had extended to twenty. 

" He'll stop with Mr. Spilby an hour,** she thought, " prosing 
about that old school,'* by which she meant the new schooL "I 
really wish we hadn't helped papa with the fancy fair. We 
shaJl never hear the last of that tiresome school-house ; and I'm 
sure the present building does well enough. It keeps out wind 
and weather, and if the children are a little crowded it's no 
more than they're accustomed to in their homes. What's the 
use of disturbing the poor little creatures' ideas of life with fine 
architecture, wHen they must go home to their hovels after 
aflP*; 

Miss Yancourt gave a second yawn, which she hardly took the 
trouble to conceaL She was surprised in the midst of it by the 
appearance of a gentleman upon a well-groomed chestnut horse» 
who drew rein on the off-side of th«) little pon^r carriage. 

" I thought I couldn't be mistaken,'* said tms gentleman ; " it 
is Miss Yancourt.*' 

The yawn was strangled untimely, and Miss Yancourt became 
all smiles and brightness. 

"How do you do. Sir Aubrey?'* she said, shaking hands wi'-h 
the lord of the soil. " Papa is m the office, tdking to Mr. Spil'oy 
about the new school-house." 

** Indeed. Do you know I am very much interested in thali 
new school-house P That little Arcadian festivity yeste day 
afternoon was charming. I was never more gratified." 

"Beallyl" exclaimed Miss Yancourt, brightening. It is ao 
nice to lie praised by a person of importance. " It was a very 
humble attempt, of course, but for a charity bazaar it certainly 
went off amazmgly well." 

"The bazaar!" exclaimed Sir Aubrey. "I wasn't thinking 
of the bazaar just then, though it was ver^ nice, and did you 
young ladies vast credit—all those pretty things worked by your 
own flEiir hands — delightful, I am sure. But what I spoke o£ 
just now was tiie children's tea-drinking — such a pretty rustic 
scene, in that nice old orchard — ^the happy children — a — arrah — 
thatr-arrah — ^pretty girl who helped to give them l^eir tea— 



T2 Tb^en at the Flood. 

altogether a very sweet scene." THe baronet's langnid tonoi 
^tumbled curionsly towards the end of this speech. 

**I suppo&e you mean Mr. Carew's dangnter," said Miaa 
Vancourt contemptuously. " Eather a bold young person. My 
sister and I used to be kind to her as long as we could afford to 
do so. But lately there have been some unpleasant reports." 

"Unpleasant reports!" echoed Sir Aubrey; "what kind of 
reports r" 

"I had rather not discuss the subject, if you please, Sir 
Aubrey," replied Miss Vancourt, drawing her lips together 
primly. 

" I am sorry that village slander should touch so innocent a 
creature," said the baronet, "for it needs no profound know- 
ledge of the human countenance to see purity in that fair young 
face." 

Miss Yancouit sighed gently, but made no reply. It was 
hardly worth disputing about Sylvia's character with this senile 
baronet, who evidently admired her pretty face. Nor could Mbs 
Vancourt have said very much against the young woman had 
she been forced to speak plainly. She had only been informed 
by some one who had been informed by some one else, that 
Sylvia (^arew had been seen walking with Mr. Standen in the 
shades of evening. And this Sir Aubrey Perriam might have 
considered insufficient evidence for the condemnation of a village 
beauty. 

Mr. Vancourt emerged from Mr. Spilby's office and saved the 
necessity of further argument. 

" How do you do, Sir Aubrey P nice weather for the crops. 
I'm happy to tell you that our little festival, which you were 
good enough to honour with your presence, was a positive 
triumph. The bazaar has producea us close upon eighty 
pounds. This, with previous collections, bringp us up to uiree 
hundred. So in about two years more, if things go well, we 
may count upon something very near a thousand, and by that 
time may certainly begin our work. The old place will hold 
together very well for a couple of years longer. 

"It would last half a century, I'm sure, papa," said Miss 
Vancourt disdainfully. " I can't think why you are so anxious 
to build new schools. I daresay it will end in a debt which yoQ 
will be obb'ged to pay." 

" Let us hope that Mr. Vancourt's parishioners wiU be too 
generous to permit such an injustice," said Sir Aubrey, with an 
air that implied his own willingness to come to the rescue. Yet 
the voice oi Bumour, in Hedingham, and Swanford, and neigh- 
bouring parishes, affirmed that Sir Aubrey Perriam was close, 
and that if there was one thing in this world he most cordially 
hat^ that one thing was to £ssever himself from any portion 



Sir Audrey U Interested, 78 

of Ills wealth. Indeed there were some slanderers so hase as to 
declare that, despite his elegant bearing and perfect dress and 
carefully appointed honsehold, Sir Aubrey was something of a 
miser. He did not put money away in iron-bound chests, or 
bury it in the earth ; but he invested it from time to time with 
studious care, and people found it very difficult to beguile him 
into the expenditure oi it. 

" It's ratner premature, perhaps," said the Vicar, " with only 
three hundred in hand; but I've asked Spilby to come over this 
evening and look at the old place, and give his opinion about 
the kind of building adapted to tibe site— Gothic, of course, it 
must be." 

Sir Aubrey was wonderfully interested. . 

"What, Sjjilby coming to look at your school-house this 
evening?" said he. "I should like to hear what he says. 
Clever fellow, Spilby." 

Sir Aubrey always praised people. It cost him nothing, and 
made things generally agreeable. 

*• If you will do us the honour of dining at the vicarage. Sir 
Aubrey," said Mr. Vancourt heartily, but stopped abruptly, 
frozen by a frown from his daughter, a frown which meant that 
the vicarage dinner was not good enough to be taken unawares 
by so great a man as Sir Aubrey. But men are so rash. 

"The idea of papa asking Sir Aubrey to go home with us 
when we've nothing but soup, and the cold fore-quarter of 
lamb," thought Miss Vancourt indignantly. 

Perhaps Sir Aubrey guessed the reason of that unfinished 
sentence, for he made haste to refuse the Vicar's invitation. 

"You're too good," he said; "but my brother would wait 
dinner for me. I must ride back to The Place, but I'll come 
to Hedingham directly after dinner. What time do you expect 
Spilby P" 

" About half-past seven." 

"Keep him till half-past eight. I'll be with you by that 
time; good-bye. Miss Vancourt; au revoir. Vicar," and the 
baronet touched his chestnut's shoulder with his whip, and rode 
off at a sharp trot. 



CHAPTER XIL 

HIS INTEREST DEEPENS. 



The sun had lett only a low line of crimson behind the cypreea 
and yews in the churchyard, when Sir Aubrey Perriam opened 
the rustic gate of the school-house garden. He had left his 
horse at the inn, where the landlord and his underlings w<itft Qc^ 



7AI Taken at the Flood. 

a little surprised tc see the lord of the manor at so late an lionr. 
There was something cheering in his appearance. It seemed ai 
if he meant to take notice of Hedingham. 

** It's like old times to see you among ns again. Sir Anbrey,** 
said the man, vaguely, for those times were old indeed, older 
than this mortal life, in which Sir Aubrey had been wont to 
honour Hedingham with frequent visits. 

" I've come to meet the architect who is to draw the denigns 
for the new school-house, Barford," said the baronet gra- 
ciously. 

"Deary me. Yes, our Vicar's such an active gentleman, 
alius up to something," replied Mr. Barford, who would have 
preferred a more sleepy vicar and less frequent calls upon his 
own purse. 

Those improvements of Mr. Yancourt's imposed a tax upon 
Hedingham — yet it was something to live in a village that stood 
foremost in the march of civilization. Mr. Yancourt had even 
talked about restoring the church— doing away with the gallery 
in which generations of Hedingham folks had listened in slum- 
brous repose to drowsy afternoon sermons — and beautifying 
chancel and aisles in some wonderful manner. But the Heding- 
ham people strenuously opposed any such new-fangled notions. 
They liked the church as their forefathers had sat in it, they 
said sentimentally; and they liked their money in their pockets; 
but this they did not say. 

The architect and Mr. Yancourt had been pacing and mea- 
suring and planning for the last half-hour. Sir Aubrey heard 
their voices as he opened the little gate and went into the school- 
master's carden. iBut he was in no hunr to join them. He 
strolled ^owly along the narrow path, admiring that homely 
mixture of flowers and vegetables, the entanglement of pinks 
and pansies protected by a border of thick box that had been 
growing for the last forty years, the tall hollyhocks that 
screened the cabbages and lleans,^ the spreading rose-bushes. 
To a man who lived half the year in Pans this village garden 
had charms. 

" After all, there is no place like England," he said to him- 
self, "and tiiere are no women so pretty as Englishwomen. 
Where on the continent could one match the pink and white of 
that girl's complexion P " 

He found Mr. Yancourt and the architect pacing the little 
grass plat before Mr. Carew's parlour. Sylvia sat just within 
tiie open door, watching them while she worked, making as fair 
a picture in the twilignt as a painter need care to see. Her 
fo&er lounged against the door-po8t» smoking his evening 
pipe. 

Sir Anbr^ gave a nod to the Yicar and Mr. Spilby, and went 



IRs Interest Deepens. T5 

ftraight to the door, where be wished Miss Carew good erening, 
with bare bead. 

The girl gave a little start at first seeing him, and the fair 
fBLce crimsoned. What could have brought him here to-night P 
To-night of all nights, when poor Edmund was on bis dismal 
way to Southampton. 

Sir Aubrey saw the blush, and was gratified. There were 
ladies of his acquaintance who affected to consider him an old 
man. It was pleasant to find that he could flutter the pulse of 
this lovely young creature. 

" I hope you are not very much fatigued after your exertions 
vesterday," he said courteously. The schoolmaster had laid aside 
nis pipe, and was bringing out a chair. 

^ •* I am not at all tired, thank vou, Sir Aubrey," replied the 
girl,, smiling at his question, in tue serene security of youth and 
health. ** I really don't know what it is to be tired. I sup- 
pose that comes from never riding in carriages." 

"I would lock up my stables and dismiss my grooms to- 
morrow, if I could secure the same immunity," said Sir Aubrey, 
with a gentle sigh, sinking into the chair which James Carew 
had placed for mm. 

He acknowledged the schoolmaster's courtesy with a stately 
jiclination of his head. '* This gentleman is your father, I pre- 
«ifme," he said to Sylvia, inquiringly. 

" Yes, Sir Aubrey." 

*' Charmed to know you, Mr. Carew,** murmured the baronet 
oondescendingly. "I didn't see you in the orchard yester- 
day-" 

" No, Sir Aubrey. The children's feast-day is my one day of 

perfect rest. And as I am not particulai-ly strong, I leave 
younger and gayer folks to make the little ones merry ; my pre- 
sence would set them gabbling the multiplication table, I fancy, 
from mere force of habit." 

"Very likely," said Sir Aubrey, laughing, with that easy 
mechanical laugh acquired in polite society. " Very good, Mr. 
Carew. And is this young lady your youngest daughter ?" 

" She is my only daughter. Sir Aubrey — my only child." 

** Indeed. You must be very fond of her." 

James Carew looked at his daughter with a puzzled expression^ 
feeHng that he was called upon to say something tender — ^to let 
loose some gush of emotion, such as might be expected to flow 
from the Hps of an only child's father. 

But those two had not cultivated the lan^age of the affec- 
tions, and Mr. Carew had no such words at his command. 

** We get on very well together," he said, trying his hardest 
to be tender, "but I'm afraid the life is rather a dull one for 
Sylvia.** 



76 Talren at the Flood. 

** Yoa speak with a refinement of accent wliick I shonld liardlj 
nave expected in ^** 

'*In a Hedingham schoolmaster," said Mr. Carew. •*! don'i 

Know about that. I daresay I'm very much behind the new 

order of national schoolmasters, who are expected to be wonders 

of erudition. But I came to Hedingham in the good old times, 

when all people expected of a vDlage schoolmaster was the 

ability to spell decently and write a fair hand." 

r^ Mr. Carew might have added that in this happier era certifi- 

^v.^)oates of character were not so sternly scrutinised as they are 

^now-a-days. 

"Have yon been so long at Hedingham F** inquired Sir 
Aubrey. 

" Fifteen years.*' 

•* You surprise me ! With your education, I should have sup- 
posed you would have long ago Bought and obtained a much 
better position." 

Sylvia gave an impatient sigh. This was the very thought 
she had so often uttered. 

" Papa doesn't know the meaniug of ambition," she said. 

** No, I have no ambition. * Man wants but little here below, 
nor wants that little long.* Why disturb the brief span in which 
he may enjoy his little by fruitless endeavours to make it great P 
* The gods want nothing,* said the Greek, * and the man who 
wants least comes nearest to the gods.* I have schooled my 
Aesires better than I have tausht the village children ; and, like 
Goldsmith's model pastor, feel myself ' passing rich with forty 
pounds a year.' " 

Mr. Carew might have added, that, unlike the ideal pastor, he 
spent the fort]^ pounds strictly upon himself, and thus stretched 
the money to its utmost limit. 

"I admire your philosophical spirit, sir," said the baronet 
approvingly. " If there were more men of your temper there 
would be fewer revolutions. Yet for your daughter s sake I 
can but think it a pity you should have been contented with a 
positMin so far below your merits." 

Sylvia gave another sigh. 

" Oh, papa never thinks of me," she said ; ** so lon§ as he has 
a servant, to whom he need pay no wages, he is quite satisfied." 

Now this was not an amiable speech, and from Ups less lovely 
might have seemed wanting in filial respect. But Sir Aubrey 
looked at the lips, and did not weigh the words that had escaped 
through that rosv gate. He was thinking how lovely, how in- 
telligent the girl was, and what a hard thing it seemed ihat 
she should be buried alive in such a place as this — pretty and 
rustic indeed to contemplate as a picture in the summer twilighi^ 
but no fitting home for a beautiful young woman. 



JBm Interest Deepens. 77 

He rose liastily, went across the grass to the Yicar and Mr. 
Spilby, who were leaning against the palings talking prodi- 
giondy, Spilby with a pencil and note-book in his hand. There 
was too dangerous a witchcraft about that fair joang face. 
Witchcraft that might lore a man to his ruin. 

" In my position a man cannot afford to be foolish," thought 
the baronet. Ferriam Place and all its appurtenances hung . 
round his neck, as it were — a millstone which he could not shako 
off. " If I were a youngster, I might make a fool of mysel/ -* 
and marry that girl," he thought. / 

Yet in a young man with his life before him such an act would J 
have been more desperate than in a man of Sir Aubrey's age, 
with whom the best part of life was over, and who might surely 
choose what comforter he liked for his declining years. Never, 
perhaps, was a man more free to please himself than Sir Aubrey, 
ifear relations he had none, save his brother, the harmless, eccen- 
tric Mr. Perriam, who was considered hardly quite right in his 
mind. There was really nothing to prevent nis pleasing himself; 
except his own prejumces. But these were strong. He had a 
magnificent idea of his own importance and the grandeur of his 
place in the world. He had never done anything in competition 
with his fellow-men ; and therefore he had never failed. Nothing 
had ever happened to weaken his faith in himself. 

As a young man he had been affianced to the daughter of a 
Dnke. The Duke yas poor, but of loftiest lineage. The girl, 
Lady Guinevere, had died a month before the da|r appointed for 
the marriage, and the blow had fallen heavily on Aubrej 
Perriam. The portrait of his betrothed still hung in his 
study at Perriam, and he rarely looked at it without a regretfal 



This disappointment, or rather the memory of his disappoint- 
ment, for it nad long ceased to be more than a sorrowful memory, 
had kept Sir Aubrey single all these years. With the recollec- 
tion that his Guinevere was the sweetest of women, there mingled 
always the thought that she was also the daughter of one of 
England's oldest Dukes. He met with innumerable pretty 
women, and agreeable women, who would have been glad to 
become Lady Perriam ; but there was not one worthy to occupy 
the place that Guinevere was to have filled. They might have 
brightened his earth with all the tender joys of home ; but they 
could not have given his children a ducal grandfather. Sir 
Aubrey took that fact to heart, and remained single. 

Yet in every pathway there lurks a snare. Sir Aubrey's 
tastes were artistic. He had his ideal, hijsi dream of perfect 
beauty, which he never thought to see realised save on the canvas 
of his favourite, Titian. And, lo, he had found this dream-pic« 
faie, this impossiMe flower of human life, whick ^^oetU V^ds^^^svsk^^ 



78 Taken ai ike Flood. 

and painters have painted throngb all the ages. He had found 
his ideal, here, in the village of Hedin^ham — on hit own pro- 
perty — but a few miles from the honse id which he dwelt. 

Ite listened politely to all Mr. Spilby's ideas about the new 
school-house. Mr. Spilby was o^ opinion that the present 
building was worn out, used up, that it would hardly hold toge- 
ther for a month longer. 

'' Weather-tight it has not been for the last ten years,** said 
Mr. Spilby, witn profound contempt, " and how those blessed 
old cob walls have contrived to hold io(|^ther at all passes my 
understanding.*' 

** I'm afraid they must hold together a year or two longer, 
Spilby," said the vicar. '* But you may give us your specifica- 
tion as soun as you like. We shall know where we are when 
we've got that.*' 

Sir Aubrey pretended the deepest interest, and when Mr. 
Spilby departed to pick up his ^g at the inn, and drive back 
to Monknampton, the baronet still lingered, and this time did 
not refuse the Vicar's offer of a bottle of clsiret. The vicarage 
was on the other side of the churchyard. They had but to pass 
beneath the gloom of the cypress that had shaded Edmund and 
Sylvia's farewell, cross a more open part of the burial ground, 
and the windows of the Vicar's substantial dwelling were before 
them. A low wall only divided the vicarage garden from the 
place of tombs. Clumps of dahlias and rose-covered arches 
rose gaily beyond the grassy mounds, and above the moss-grown 
headstones the %hted windows of Mr. Vancourt's drawing- 
room shone out cheerily. Croquet hoops, scattered balls and 
mallets, still adorned the lawn. 

'' Bather a singular man, that schoolmaster of yours," said 
the baronet, as &ey sauntered through the churchyard; "a 
man who has seen better days, I shoiDd think. Do you know 
anything of his antecedents? 

" Not a tittle. He came here before my time, you know.f 

" I wonder how he got the situation. He doesn't talk like a 
West country man." 

" No, I don't think he belongs to this part of the country." 

** Yet Carew is a West country name.' 

** It is — and a good one. Fve tried more than once to make 
out what Carews he belongs to. But he's uncommonly close — 
theie's no getting at the bottom of his mind. He's not an 
agreeable man, by any moans, but he's a very good school- 
master." 

** What stipend does he get P " 

''Forty pounds a year, coals, candles, and the school-house." 

'' Poor fellow I And he speaks like a gentleman. The daughter 
if interesting, too. Do you know mucn of herF" 



Interest Deepens. 79 

** IVe seen her change from bnd to blossom. Slie was a bit 
of a child of twelve, or so, when I first came here." 

• ** She looks amiable — a goodish kind of girl, I should think.** 

**As good as the generality of girls, I daresay," says the 
Yicar, in a tone that was not comphmentaiy to the species. 
" My daughters tell me she is vain, but as I don't find that 
tbey themselves are entirely free from that feminine weakness, 
I don't attach much weight to the accusation. So pretty a ghH 
as Sylvia can hardly help knowing she is pretty.** 

No word of village scandal nor of blemish in the girl's fair famo. 
Sir Aubrey was glad of that. But he pushed the question still 
farther. " Your daughter said somethmg this afternoon about 
certain reports which had prevented her being quite so kind to 
Miss Carew lately as she had been in the pas^" ne said. " Do 
you know the nature of those reports ? *' 

" Beports," cried the Yicar, almost in a passion, *' Hedingham 
is full of reports. The very air engenders reports. If you go 
out of your house after dark — a report I If you take an un- 
accustomed walk before breakfa8t---a report 1 If a stranger 
dines with you — the fact is reported. You can hardly eat your 
dinner in the solitude of your own home without bemg talked 
about. You eat poultry when other people eat meat. You are 
going to the dogs. You dine on a cold sirloin and a salad. Yon 
are a miser. I have no patience with village scandalmongers, 
and my detestation of their gossip is so well Imown that very few 
of their inventions ever travel my way. As for Sylvia Carew, I 
have known her from a child, aud I have never had any reason 
to think ill of her." 

Sir Aubrey was fflad. It was not to be supposed that what 
men said or thought about this village beauty could be of any 
-eosMquence to him : yet in hig heart (S* hearts he was glad. 



«> 



CHAI>TER XnL 

AK UNINVITED GU168T. 

Whilb the baronet was making himself agreeable in the 
vicarage drawiug-room, and pretending to mistake Mr. Yan- 
oonrt's wholesome Mddoc for Chateau Margaux, a curious scene 
was takiujgf place in the school-house parlour — a scene of more 
dramatic intensity than any which had ever been enacted there 
once Mr. Carew came to Hedingham. 
Kight dosed, dark and starless, as the schoolmaster die^ hitiL 



80 Taken at the Mood. 

blinds, and seabed himself at the little table to read his news* 
paper by the light of a pair of candles, the second of which was 
only lignted wmle Mr. Carew read. With his small pittance it 
was a matter of some importance whether he burned one or two 
candles; so whon he folded his paper and laid it aside it was 
Sjlria's care to extinguish the second candle. 

For a man who lived so much apart from his fellow-men, Mr. 
Oarew was singularlj fond of the newspaper. Books interested 
him little, thouj^h he had read a good deal at some period of his 
life. Bat th« newspaper he devoured — watching the careers of 
public men — ttnd most of all of commercial men, and noting 
every step in vKeir progress. Very often had Sylvia seen him 
lay aside the Jonmal with a heart-piercing sigh — a sigh such 
as the lost in Oie underworld may have flung after Yirgil and 
Dante as tht light of those radiant countenances faded slowly 
from them and left all dai^k. Long as the schoolmaster had 
lived in this quiet seclusion it was evident that he had still 
yearnings— that still in his breast there were smouldering iires 
not to be extinguished. Sometimes he would burst out mto a 
sudden passion, and favour Sylvia with a homily upon the 
erooked ways of Destiny, the insecurity of earthly fortune. But 
not from a spiritual stand-point did ne survey the question — 
not with heavenly hopes did he entreat his child fo fortify her- 
self. He took a purely carnal view of the subject, and taught 
her that this human life was a jumble of contradictions, in which 
some few pushing, indefatigable spirits got the best of it These 
chosen ones reigned above the general chaos, and contrived to 
enjoy themselves. But for the mass, life meant hopeless con- 
fusion. 

Sylvia listened, and agreed with the preacher. She was very 
rea^ to find fault with a system which compelled her to wear 
faded gowns and home-made bonnets. Whether Fate or Society 
were most to blame she hardly knew ; but she felt there was 
something amiss— that life was a riddle beyond her power to read 
aright. 

To-night, however, Mr. Carew was unusually cheerful in his 
demeanour. He whistled a scrap of Italian music softly, as 
he drew down the blinds — a reminiscence of his opera-going days. 

" You may sing me a song, Sylvia," he said, " while I smoke 
Miother pipe." 

The girl seated herself at the piano and obeyed. Bat as her 
thoughts were following Edmund Standen she chose the saddest 
melody in her scanty repertoire. He was at Southampton, most 
likely, by this time, she thought, pacing the lamp-lit streets of 
the strange town, sad and lonely, and longing for her company. 
80 she sang a pen^ve little song of Sir Walter Scott's, set ta a 
iboumfiil strain — 



An Uninvited Oueii. 81 

** The heaih this xiight must be my bed^ 
The bracken corfcain for my head, 
Xy lullaby the warder's tread. 

Far, far from love and thw, Ifary: 
To-morrow eve, more stilly Itdd, 
liy couch may be my bloody plaid, 
Hy vesper song, thy wail, sweet nudd. 

It will not waken me, Mary," 

^ Mr« Carew did not tfiko mncli notice of the song. HRie plain* 
tive voice soothed him as he smoked, and meditated more ncpe- 
rally than he had done for some time. 

A He to]d himself that his daughter had made a conqaest. Sir 
Aubrey Perriam was evidently impressed — aye, and deeply — ^by 
her exceptional beauty. There were looks and tones whicn it was 
impossible to mistake. And again, why had the baronet come 
this evening. That pretended interest in the new school-house 
was the shallowest amfice. Sir Aubrey had come there to see 
Sylvia, and for no other reason. 

Such admiration might end in nothing, of course. It was 
most likely to end in nothing. It was not to be supposed that 
a man of fortune and position who had lived single to between 
fifty and sixty years of age, escaping the various snares which 
must have been laid for him, would fall captive to the charms 
of a village beauty. 

" Men are such base slaves to the world they live in, that it 
would be too much to hope that this man might have courage 
to please himself," pondered Mr. Carew. " However much ho 
admires my daughter, he will be stoic enough to turn his back 
upon us and forget all about her." 

Sylvia had told her father of that little scene in the orchard, 
andliow she had caught Sir Aubrey Perriam at Blindman's 
Buff, and how he had kissed her hand afterwards like a courtier 
of the old school. Fealty to Edmund in no wise forbade that 
she should be gratified by such homage to her beauty ; yet hr.d 
Edmund ventured to admire any one but herself she would 
have objected strongly. 

To-ni^ht, even while she was singing, her thoughts wandered 
from Edmund to the b;ironet, and she wondered why he had 
come this evening, and if other people noticed that admiring 
look in his eyes when he spoke to her. Poor Edmund* If m 
had only been master of Perriam Place, instead of being de- 
pendent upon the will of a tyrannical mother ! 

" Look here, Sylvia," said her father, when he had smoked 
jut his pipe ; ** your iine Mr. Standen and I had a few plain 
words together to-day. You must have managed matters more 
artfully than even the generality of women to keep me in the 
dark till the last moment." 

"What was the use of speaking, papaP" returned t\i<^ ^g:& 



88 Taken at the Flood. 

with an indifferent air. ** I knew you'd be against us. And 
we've only been engaged snob a short time." 

''Engaged, indeed 1" cried the schoobnaster, contemptnonslyy 
** you don t tell me that you mean to marry a beggar P 

" I mean to many Mr. Standen," answered the girl firmly. 
She looked her father full in the face, and he knew that the look 
was a defiance. 

** I should have thought you'd had enough of beggary." 

" He will work for me," she said, with that steady look. Her 
father felt the taunt. What effort had he ever made to lift his 
child from the dismal swamp of poverty P " Edmund will work 
for me," repeated the girl. " Why should he not prosjjer P He 
is young and hopeful, and will not sit down and fold ms hands, 
contented with beggary, like that miserable sluggard those 
droning boys talk about." 

" I don't know how to argue with a woman," exclaimed Mr. 
Carew scornfully. ** There are depths of silliness to which a man 
cannot reduce nis understanding. Marry Edmund Standen, if 
you like. Proclaim to every one in Hedingham that you and he 
Ire engD^ed to be married, knd if yoa mal as brilliant a pros- 
pect as ever a girl had you'll have only yourself to blame 
by-and-by, when you and your husband are starving." 

" A brilliant prospect," echoed the girl, with a bitter laugh ; 
"what brilliant prospect can I have here f " She glanced dis- 
dainfully at her surroundings, and laughed again — not plea- 
santly. 

"What should you sajr to being mistress of Perriam Placed" 

The girl laughed a tmrd time, but this time with less bitter- 
ness. " Poor papa," she said compassionately, " can you be so 
foolish as to attach any importance to Sir Aubrey's notice ? " 

" Great events have sprung from small beginnings," an- 
swered her father sententiously. " But if you marry Edmund 
you shut the door in the face of fortune." 

Sylvia gave an impatient sigh. 

"I wish you wouldn't put such nonsense into my head, papa. 
It only makes me uncomfortable. Mistress cf Perriam Place, 
indeed, just because an elderly gentleman has paid me a com- 
pliment or two. Was there ever such absurdity P " 

Mr. Carew said nothing, but began to read his newspaper. 
Sylvia fidgeted with her work-basket, yet made no attempt to 
work. That foolish speech of her father's had strangdy dis- 
turbed her. She gave another sigh, heavier than the first. 

"You don't know how good Edmund is, papa," she said plead- 
ingly. " You don't know how dearly, how truly he loves me." 

" I know that he has not a shilling of reliable income," an- 
swered her father, " and I consider that enough for me to know 
tibont HUfS iMUi who wants to W^vrf my daughter." 



An Uninvited Ouegf. H*\ 

" I wish be were richer. But Mrs. Standen may relent somi 
day," said Sylvia musingly. " He is so good, and brave, and 
true ; and thinks no more of sacrificing his prospects for my sake 
than if it were but throwing away a faded flower." 

" A convincing proof that he's auwrant fool," said her father 
** and never likely to succeed in life. 

" Is that a rule, papa P Yet, if clever people always suc- 
ceeded, you ought to have done better." 

" I don't pretend to cleverness. I have been a fool in my 
time — ay, fooled to the top of my bent. Hark, child," he said, 
starting ; " what's that P *^ 

It was a timid knock at the outer door, at an hour when 
visitors were rare at the school-house. The little Dutch clock 
in the kitchen had struck ten, a late hour for Hedingham, bed- 
time even for the gentry, unless they had company. The most 
dissipated of Hedmgham dinner parties was over at eleven, and 
darkness had descended upon the dinner givers by half-past. 

To a nervous temperament any unexpected summons is alarm- 
ing, were it even the most timid tap at a street door, and to-night 
Mr. Carew's nerves were somewhat over strung. That notion 
about the baronet's fancy for his daughter, shadowy as it was, 
had excited him. 

He went to the door and opened it cautiously ; as if prepared 
to behold a burglar with mask and lanthom, or perhaps some 
modern spring-heeled Jack. But the figure he saw was by 
no means alarming ; only a woman's slender form, clad in gar- 
ments which, even in that dim light, looked shabby-genteel. 

" What do you want P " he asked, not too graciously. 

A voice answered him in tones so low, that Sylvia, who was 
straining her ears to catch the reply, heard only a vague 
murmur. 

But if she heard nothing definite, she saw enough to alarm 
her in the manner of her father. He gave a start, drew back 
into the room with a smothered exclamation, then bent forward 
again, as if to peer into the face of the untimely visitant. 

" Wait a minute," he muttered, and then looking back at hist 
daughter, said hurriedly, " Go up stairs to your room, Sylvia, 
and stay there till I call you. I want a little quiet talk with 
this person." 

Sylvia looked at him as if inclined to ask questions. 

" Go, I say. I'll call you when I want you." 

Sylvia obeyed, without a word. She took one of the candles 
with her, leaving the room dimly lighted by the other. 

Into this dim light Mr. Carow ushered th« stranger — but not 
with that air which bespeaks heartiness of welcome. Eelac- 
tantly, rather as a man might admit the sheriff's officer who 
cama to deprive hira of liberty. 



84 Hbkm ai tie Fhod, 



OHAPTBB XIV. 

TEBLOEEN 1ST YERLOBEN ! 

The woman entered with a nervous, fartive air, as if sLe west 
not quite sure whether that dimly lighted parlour might not 1m 
in somewise a trap— which might close upon her to her undoing. 
She looked around the room curiously — ^wonderii^ly — and from 
Uie room she looked at the schoolmaster. 

** Yes," he said, answering the look. " It's a change, isn't it F 
Nothing splendid here— nothing to swell a woman's vani^ or 
feed her pnde." 

" The place looks very poor,** replied the woman falteringl/, 
" but I've long been used to povertv." Then with a little gush 
of feeling she looked straight in his face, and said, ** Haven't 
you one kind word for me, Carford, after all these years P " 

" Drop that name, if you please," he said angrily. " Here I'm 
known as James Carew. x on could only have tracked me here 
by that name." 

" Don't say tracked you here, James. I should never have 
troubled you if there'd been any other creature upon this earth 
to whom I could appeal in my distress." 

" What, have you used them all up — ^wom them all out — all 
the fops and flatterers who used to swear by the pretty Mrs. 
Carford?" 

*' I want so little, James," pleaded the woman, not replying 
to his sneer. ** I expect so littje." 

" I'm glad of that," cried Mr. Carew, " this is no place to 
foster large expectations. Why, woman, do jrou require to be 
told that the utmost I have been able to do m all these years 
has been to find bread for myself and my child P Do you want 
words to tell you that, when you see me here P " 

He surveyed the room with ineffable contempt ; the woman 
watching him all the while with her haggard eyes. 

'' This room is a palace, James," she said presently, " com- 
pared with the holes that I have occupied." 

She seated herself with a hesitating air, as if doubtful whether 
the privilege of sitting in that room might not be denied her — 
seated herself where the light of the one candle shone full upon 
her wan face. 

It was a face that had once been beautiful. That was seen 
at a glance. Those large hazel eyes, seeming larger for the 
hollownoss of the cheeks, haggard as they were, had not lost 
all their lustre. The delicate features neitner years nor sorrow 
bad changed ; yet on all the face there was the stamp of ruin. 



Verloren isi VerlorenI S5 

a decay bejond hope of restoration. Never again could bloom 
or freshness brTghten that image of departed beauty. Like a 

fhost appeared this woman to the eyes that had seen her in 
er prime. The schoolmaster contemplated her a little while 
thoughtfully, then turned away with a sigh. Such decay is 
sadder than death. 

Yes, she had been pretty^ ; and her face bore a painful likeness 
to another face, now in its flower of loveliness. Those eyes 
were Sylvia's eyes grown old. Those delicate features had the 
same modelling. But all the g^lory of colouring which made 
Sylvia resemble a picture by Titian this face had lost. A pak 
grayness was its pervading tint. The loose hair that strayed 
across the deenly-hned fordiead was of the same faded neutral 
hue as the snrunken cheek. If ever the ghost of beauty 
walked this earth, this was that sorrowful phantom — a shade 
which seemed to say to youth and loveliness, *' Behold how 
fleeting are your graces ! ** 

A history of woman's decadence might have been written 
from this woman's dress. The flimsy silk gown, worn at every 
seam, stained and smeared \^ith the dirt of vears — the wretched 
rag of a shawl which had once called itself black lace, but was 
now the colour of the grass in Hyde Park after a hot summer — 
the bonnet, a thing compounded of scraps from a milliner's rag 
bag — the gloves, last sacrifice to civilization, shrunk from 
exposure to bad weather till they could scarcely cover even 
those wasted hands. Genteel penury had reached its ultimate 
limit. 

" How did you find me P " asked Mr. Carew, after a pause, 
during which the woman had watched his face closely, trying 
to read hope there. 

" Mr. ]^es, the cashier, met me in Holborn one day, and 
seeing me so poor, asked me why I did not apply to you. Hb 
had seen you in the church here one day when he had come 
down for a week's fishing in this neighbourhood, and he remem- 
bered you. He told me that you seemed comfortably off, and 
mi^ht help me a little. This happened quite three years ago. 
I did not want to come to you, James. I knew I had no right. 
I waited till starvation drove me here." 

** Starvation," cried the schoolmaster, " if you had enough 
money to pay your journey down here, you must have been a 
long way off starvation." 

'* A lew shillings did that. I came by a cheap excursion 
train to Monkhampton. I borrowed half-a-soverei^ from my 
landlady — a good soul, who has been very patient with me." 

** Your friend would have done better to keep her money. 1 
have not ten shillings to give you. Good heavens ! is there no 
•omer of the earth remote enough to shelter aTiv(y:(i ^c^isi^^da 



86 Taken at the Moot. 

?7e of the world ? To think that fellow Miles should spy m« 
out even here ! " 

" He spoke q^nite kindly of you, James." 

'* Curse his impertinence I What right had he to mentioa 
my name P To you of all people I " 

** Ob, I know 1 had no ri^ht tocome to you," said the woman, 
with abject humility. " There is no pity, no forgiveness — at 
least none on earth — ^for a wife that has once wronged her 
husband." 

" Once wronged P ** cried James Oarew, with intense bitter^ 
ness. " Once wronged P Why, your life was one long series 
of wrong against me. If it had been but your falseh^^d as a 
wife— well, there are men whose philosophy is tough enough to 
stretch to forgiveness ! I don't say I am one of those. But it 
is just possible that, had your one crime been your flight with 
that scoundrel, time might have taught me to think less hardly 
of you." 

Worms are said to turn when trodden on. A curious sparkle 
glittered in Mrs. Oarford's wan eyes ; her lip curled with irre- 
pressible scorn. 

<* My crime served as a set-off against yours, James," she 
said quietly. '* But for that you might have stood in the 
felon's dock." 

" But for that ! Mr. Mowbray could not afford to prosecute 
the husband of the woman he seduced for the error of which 
her extravagance was the chief cause." 

*' My extravagance ! Oh, James, don't be too hard upon me. 
Who was it most loved show and luxury, and prided himself on 
his hospitality, and was never satisfied unless life was all plea- 
sure? Who was it that belonged to half-a-dozen clubs, where 
one might have sufficed him P Who attended every race meet- 
ing, and won and lost money so fast that his bewildered brain 
lost count of gains and losses P My extravagance indeed! 
What was a dressmaker's bill against settling-aay at Tatter- 
sail's, or the price of an occasional box at the opera against a 
"lun of ill-luck at Orockford's P And how was 1 to know that 
(vo were living beyond our income when I saw you spare nothing 
to gratify your own fancies. I knew you were only a salaried 
manager in that great house, but I knew your salary was a 
large one, and that you occupied a position of influence which 
your father had held before you. What was I but a school- 
girl when you married me ; and what experience had I to guide 
me P Do you think I should have been reckless if you had told 
me the truth ; if you had only been frank and confessed that we 
were on the brink of ruin, that you had falsified the accounts 
of the house, and lived in hourly fear of discovery P " 
'' Confess to youl" cried the husband scornfully; " confess 



Verloren ist Verhrenl 87 

to a doll that only lived to be dressed and made pretty. Where 
was I to look for a heart tinder all your finery P No, I pre- 
ferred trusting to the chapter of accidents rather than to ffoch 
a wife as you. I thought I might tide over my difficulties. The 
deficiency was large, but one great stroke of luck on the turf 
might have enabled me to make things square. I went on 
hoping in the face of ruin till one day I went to my office to 
find a strange accountant going through my books ; and came 
back to my home a few hours later to discover that my wife 
had eloped with my employer." 

" That wicked act saved yon from a convict's cell," said the 
woman. 

•* At the price of my dishonour," answered the schoolmaster. 
" The same night brought me a letter from my betrayer — the 
honoured guest at my board — the innocent victim of my fraud, 
as I had believed him — ^infoi^ming me that my defalcations had 
been long suspected, and had now been proved with mathematical 
exactness by an examination of the books. The letter, curt, 
and without signature, informed me further that the house 
would spare me the disgrace of a prosecution on condition that 
I withdrew myself from the commercial world, and refrained 
from any future attempt to obtain credit or employment in the 
City of London. Of the wife he had stolen from me the villain 
who penned that letter said nothing." 

There was a pause. James Carew stopped: exhausted by 
passion which was not the less intense because he held it wcU 
m check. 

** What was I to do P Submit tamely to my dishonour, or 

{bllow the scoundrel who had stolen mjr wifer If I followed 
lim, if I asserted an injured husband's right of satisfaction, he 
would bring my defalcations against me. I had signed his name 
to bills for my own advantage. He could denounce me as a 
forger. I had kept back moneys that oug^ht to have come to 
him. He could charge me with theft. Vain to say that I 
meant to redeem the bills — ^that I hoped to replace the money. 
The thing was done." 

He paused again, breathless, and wiped the drops from hip 
forehead. The very memory of those days revived tho old 
passion. 

"I dreaded the felon's fate. But I was a man and not a 
worm. So I followed you and your seducer — fonnd you, after a 
lone hunt, at Lucerne. How could such guilty souls face th« 
eubumity of nature P Mowbray behaved a shade better than I 
oonld have hoped. We fought, and I wounded him, and left 
aim in the arms of his valet, in a little wood not five hundred 

J aids from the hotdl where I found you both. I came back to 
Ingland, wandered about aimlessly for some tuaev oAXTjiEB^ 



88 Taken ai the JBtooi. 

Sylvia with me, always expecting to be arrested: and finall? 
came down here penniless. I found the post of village school- 
master vacant, applied for it, and after a little delay obtained 
it, with no better recommendation than a bearing which mj 
patrons were pleased to think that of a gentleman. That is 
the sum of my history. Yours, I doubt not, can beast more 
variety." 

•* Only the varieties of sorrow and remorse, James," answered 
the wife, with a heart-broken sigh. " I was not so guiltj, so 
lost to shame as you deem me. The burden of my sin weighed 
heavy upon me. I pined for my child. I felt the sharo ^ing 
of dishonour. Grief made me a dull companion; and tne day 
came when I saw weariness in the face that had once known 
only smiles for me. I felt then that the end was near. My 
sacrifice had won happiness neither for myself nor the man who 
still professed to love me. We wandered about the continent 
till he grew tired, and talked of going back to England. I was 
heart sick of those garish foreign cities, but the thought of re- 
turning filled me with horror. 1 should see people I had known — 
people who knew my story. I told him my dread, and for the 
first time he answered me with a sneer, ' There's not much fear 
of your friends reoognisiuff you,* he said. * You forget how 
changed you are.* I looked in my glass a little while afterwards, 
and saw now truly he had spoken. My beauty was gone." 

" And soon after this mutual discovery, your lover left you, I 
suppose,*' said Mr. Oarew. 

"1^0, that last shame was spared me. I left him. I felt 
that the chain dragged heavily, and conscience, which only the 
thought of his affection could stifle, awoke with all its terrors. 
I could hardly have found courage to tell my wretched story to 
a pastor of my own faith, but there was a good old Catholic 
pnest who officiated at a little chapel in the Tyrol, where we had 
wandered, an old man whose face promised pity. I went to him 
and told him all. He bade me consider that if I wished to re- 
concile myself to offended heaven, my first act must be to leave 
the path of sin. I told him that I was penniless, but that I 
thought if I could get to one of the great cities of Germany I 
might obtain employment as a governess, or travelling com- 
panion, or some kind of situation where a knowledge of 
mnguages would be valuable. The good old man lent me a few 
pounds, enough to take me to Leipsic, and support me there 
while I looked about me. At first, fortune seemed to favour my 
efforts, and I thought heaven was reconciled with me. I ob- 
tained a situation in a school, to teach English, French, and 
Italian. The pittance was small, but my chief need was a 
shelter. Out ofuiat pittance I contrived to repay the good priest's 
lofljii and oloihe myself deoentlj. All went well wiui me till in 



Verloren ist Verloreni 89 

an evil liotir, afler I had been three yeuro at the school, and had 
won the principal's good word by my industry, one of my old 
friends brought a pupil to the school. Sh e was a woman who had 
admired my lace and jewels, and shared my opera- box, and a 
dozen other pleasures. She saw me, recognised the wreck of her 
former acquaintance, and told the principal my story — not too 
gently. 1 was dismissed that day, and had to begin the world 
again, without a character and without a friend. I need not 
weary you with the rest of my story. Indeed I have not 
strength to tell it. Enough that I have lived. I have hung on 
to the ragged edge of society, been daily-governess in poor 
neighbourhoods, danced in a ballet at a theatre in the City 
Boad, gone out as a dressmaker's drudge at fifbeenpence a day — 
but though often face to face with starvation — I have never ap- 
plied to Horace Mowbray for help." 

" I read his marriage in the papers some years ago," said 
James Carew, " a great marriage, one that must have double*! 
his fortune. I suppose he is a millionaire now P " 

" Mr. Miles told me that he is very rich," answered the woman, 
with a sigh. " He seemed to wonder at my rags." 

" And not to give you credit for your penitence," said her 
husband, with his cynical laugh. " This world is not a good 
place for penitents." 
^ •* James," said the woman, with a sudden appeal, ** will you 
ive me something to eat. I am faint with nunger. I have 
ad nothing but a penny biscuit all this long day." 

"Well, I'll give you a meal. You don't ask to see your 
daughter — a queer kind of mother." 

"I don't want her to see me," said the woman, shuddering. 
** Heaven knows how my heart aches at the thought of her. But 
I couldn't face her in these rags." 

** Couldn't you P " exclaimed the schoolmaster ; " then you 
mnstn't stay here. This house is not large enough to keep 
people apart. It isn't like our snug little box at Kilbum, with 
its drawmg-room, and boudoir, and smoking-room, and study. 
If you want something to eat, Sylvia must bring it." 

" Don't let her know who I am," said the mother, trembling, 
and turning with a scared look towards the door. 

" She shall know nothing, unless she has been listening all the 
time; which \s. not impossible." 

He opened the door leading into the kitchen, and called Sylvia. 
The staircase led out of this room, and at the sound of her 
jGEither's voice Sylvia came fluttering down the stairs. But it 
was just possible that light footstep might have only a minute 
before ascended. 

There was a pale, unquiet look in the girl's face, but she said 
not a word. 



ha( 



90 Taken at the Flood. 

" There is a half-famished wanderer in there,** said her fether. 
••Bring her whatever jrou can find for supper." 

Sylvia opened her little larder, and produced the carcase of a 
fowl, a scrap or two of bacon, some cold potatoes, and a loaf. 
3he spread a napkin on a tray, and set out these viands, with a 
neatness which was habitual to her — even though her hands 
trembled a little as they performed the task. Then with that 
tray in her hands she went into the parlour. 

The wanderer looked at her, and she at the wanderer ; both 
faces with something awful in their expression — as fiesh and 
blood may look at a ghost. And indeed each saw a phantom in 
the face of the other. One the spectre of the pa&t — the other 
the shade of the future. 

" This is what I was," thought the mother. 

** This is what I may be," said the daughter. 

Sylvia set the tray down before the woman, looking at her all 
the while with a half-shrinking curiosity. That pale wan coun- 
tenance, where all colour seemed efFaced by dull gray shadows, 
was so terribly like her own. She beheld her own lineaments, 
with all their beauty vanished. " What," she wondered, ** is 
beauty so dependent on colour and freshness and youth that» 
though the lines remain, all is lost when youth is gone P " 

She remembered Mrs. Standen's handsome middle-age. The 
matronly repose of the fine face, the clear bright eyes, and the 
ripe bloom of the cheek. 

"Care is the destroyer of beauty," she thought, "and not 
Time. God keep me from such a life as my mother's." 

She had heard all. Her curiosity had been awakened by her 
father's manner, and she had taken care to make herself ac- 
quainted with the cause of his agitation. She had heard every 
syllable, for the doors fitted but loosely in that old hduse, and 
tne voices had sounded as clearly as if she had been in the same 
room. Horrified, heart-sick, she had heard of her mother's 
shame, her father's dishonour. But though she had a shudder- 
ing compassion for the weaker sinner, her chief pity was for 
herself. By these sins she had been robbed of her birthright. 
Her parents* wrong-doing had condemned her to a youth of 
obscurist penury. They had started fair on the road of life, and 
of their own guilty wills had wandered off into bramble-choked 
bye-ways, among thorns and briars which wounded her inno- 
cent limbs. They had enioyed their brief day of pleasure, and 
plucked the flowers in the golden valley of sin; but for her 
ihere had been only the rugged stony steep of atonement. She 
^ad begun life weighted with the burden of their iniquities. 

The mother looked at her with a heart-rending gaze. Those 
faded eyes devoured her younc; beauty; love's fond yearning 
•poke in every look, yet fear kept the tremulous lips silent. 



Terloren ist Verlorent 91 

Never liad the^ naner so deeply felt her sin. Years of remorse 
and sorrow weighed as nothing in this moment. The mnawaj 
wife looked at Uie child she had deserted and felt her guilt a« 
keenly as if it had been a thing of yesterday. 

"How conld I leave herP" she thought. "What if James 
was hard and cruel, and that other pleaded so tenderly P I had 
my child. I might have sustained my heart with that comfort. 
I might have put that strong shield oetween my weakness and 
temptation." 

** xou told me yon were hungry,** said Mr. Carew. "Y<m 
had better eat your supper. It's late already." 

His wife haa not seemed conscious that food had been set 
before hSr. She watched Sylvia with eyes that could see 
nothing else ; or only the past, which miiLde a phantasmal back* 
ground to that living picture. She stammered an apology, and 
began to eat; slowly at first, and with an absent air, then 
ravenously. 

The bird, shorn and dismembered though he was, having 
lierved Mr. Carewfor two dinners, was savoury. The cold pota- 
toes, the bacon, the home-made loaf were luxury to one to whon\ 
plenty had been long unknown. She ate like one who haa 
Known starvation, vague complainings, protestations of peni- 
tence, evoked no pity from James Carew ; but absolute hunger 
touched even his cold heart. In dim, half-forgotten years he 
had loved this woman — with no self-sacrificing soul-aosorbing 
devotion, but with just as much love as he was capable of feel- 
ing—and it moved him to see her brought so low. 

He opened a cupboard and took out his bottle of claret — vm 
ordinaire at fifteenpence a bottle — filled a tumbler, and gave it 
to her. It was the first direct kindness which he had shown 
her, and she looked up at him with a crouching gratitude — like 
a dog which has been beaten for wrong-doing, and then restored 
to his master's favour. 

" That's kind of you, James," she murmured, after drinking 
a little of the somewhat crude vintage ; " I haven't tasted wine 
since I was in the hospital." 

" In the hospital— what for P" 

"1 got knocked down by a cab, and my arm was broken* 
They took me to the Royal Free Hospital. I was there six 
veeks. The happiest time I ever had — after — I left Germany." 

" Gk)d help you I" cried Mr. Carew with a groan. " Eat your 
supper.** 

Sylvia still lingered — fascinated by that spectral face. She 
had no yearning to fling her arms around this newly-discovered 
mother. She saw how worn and soiled those rags were, and 
could hardly have brought herself to touch them, for a love ol 
external parity and a loathing of dirt were innate in S^bm.'% 



92 Taken at the IfTood. 

mind. No new-fledged affections flattered her heart, but by 
degrees a shuddering pity crept into that breast. She went to 
her father, and whispered in his ear — 

" Where is — the person to sleep, papaP" 

The question puzzled him. He looked at its nnconscions sub- 
ject doubtfullj. Did she mean to plant herself upon him. 
Was this late arrival a deep-laid scheme intended to saddle him 
with this woman's maintenance for the rest of his days. If he 
gave her, out of mere Christian charity, a shelter to-night, would 
she refuse to depart to-morrow morning. She was his very wife. 
No legal process had ever severed her from his table or his 
home. She could claim shelter and aliment from him if sho 
pleased, and it would be hard for him to dispute the claim, im- 
possible to deny it, without exposure that would mean ruin. 

He looked at her doubtfully. He had had ample cause of 
complaint against her in those vanished years ; but her sins had 
been vanity and extravagance, not hypocrisy or artifice. Yet 
she had ended by deceiving hun. She had planned her flight 
secretly enough, no doubt. He could hardly believe in an 
unpremeditat^ elopement; even in one as reckless as that vain 
foolish woman. And, again, poverty engenders vices not original 
to the character; poverty teaches artifice, poverty destroys pride. 
All lofty sentiments are crushed out of being by that grinding 
wheel. So, at least, argued James Garew. A woman who had 
served such a long apprenticeship to destitution must be 
dangerous. 

Sylvia stole to the window, lifted the blind to look out. The 
sky was dark, and the rain fell fast; noiseless summer rain, 
doft fertiliser of the beauteous earth. She went back to her 
father and whispered again. " Let her have my room, papa." 
she said, " I can sleep on the sofa here. You can't turn her out 
on such a night; and she looks ill." 

*• She can stay, then," answered Mr. Carew. 

"If she makes any attempt to settle herself here I shall 
know how to meet it," he said to himself. " I am not a man to 
be caught in a trap of her setting." 

So it was arranged that the wanderer should rest at the 
school-house for that one night. Mr. Carew took care to specify 
the extent of his proffered hospitality. Best elsewhere in 
Hedingham, save on the leeside of a hay-stack, there would 
have been none for her. That virtuous village had lon^ been 
wrapped in refttfol slumbers, and had a mortal aversion to 
vagrants. 



Qg 



GHAPTEB XV. 

''▲LASi OVB LIPS ASS HELD SO FAB AFABT.** 

Stlvia took the wanderet upstairs to her own room — a mere 
cottage chamber in the roo^ which sloped like that of a toj 
Noah's Ark. The fnmitnre was of the poorest, but the girl^s 
vanity had endowed it with a certain grace and prettiness. One 
could fancy Gretchen's chamber bedecked with the same girlish 
art. Purest white dimity curtains draped casement and bed, 
and were tied back coquettishly with knots of ereen ribbon. Th<) 
clumsy old walnut- wood bureau had been polished with beeswax 
till it might almost have served for a mirror. A china vase on 
the dressing-table was filled with lavender and carnations. The 
bare boards were scrubbed to spotless whiteness, and the oblong 
patch of faded carpet beside the narrow bed was neatly bordered 
with a cheap worsted fringe. The girl's aspiration for the beau- 
tiful was visible in every detaiL 

Mrs, Carford surveyed the room with that mournful deprecat- 
ing gaze with which she had looked at Sylvia. Sweet shrine of 
innocent girlhood ; how long since she, the sinner, had entered 
such a temple. There was a charm in this cottage chamber 
which made it fairer than the handsomest apartment her varied 
life had ever shown her, from the luxury of satin wood and look- 
ing-^lass in the Ealbum villa, to the more tawdry splendour of 
contmeotal hotels. And after the garrets that had sheltered her 
in later years, how gracious was this humble chamber I True 
that in shape and size it was hardly superior to those attics in 
the purlieus of Holbom or the outskirts of the City Boad, but 
its purity, its neatness, its perfume of flowers and sweet country 
air made it different as Paradise from Orcus. 

" What a pretty room I " she said, falteringly. 

"Pretty! cried Sylvia, scornfully; "it's a miserable little 
hole, but I try to make it as decent as I can." 

" Ah, you don't know what London rooms are." 

" No, but I thought London was delightful I hear every oiM 
praise it." 

" Then they have never known what it is to walk its streets 
penniless. Those endless was1.es of burning pavement under a 
July sun! What desert in Africa can be worse P There are 
two Londons, Miss Carew — one lies to the west, and is a para* 
disc for the rich; the other spreads east, noi-th, aud souths 
always widening, and is a place of torment for the poor." 

" Good night," said Sylvia, briefly, but not unkmdly. She 
eould not conquer her shuddering horror of this woman; ooold 
net own that mass of rags for mother. 



04 Xahen at the Mood. 

So she went downstairs, and left the wanderer to fall on her 
knees beside the bed, and bury her haggaid face in the white 
coverlet, and kiss and sob over the lavonder-scented sheets. 

" Oh, my daughter, my daughter I ** she cried, " may thy 
beauty bear thee fairer fruit than mine has brought to me ! God 
keep and guard thee from the snares of this troubled life I God 
give thee the lowliest lot, if it be but too humble for temptation ! " 

Mrs. Oarford was not a student of the human mind, and did 
not know that in some unquiet souls temptation may be self- 
engendered. 

The temptation that was destined to attack Sylvia Carew took 

no common form, and sprang from the depths of her own subtle 

mind. 

• •••••• 

Morning came, fresh and fair. Thrushes and blackbirds sang 
their glad carols to the rising sun. Chanticleer's keen voice 
shrilled from the farm-yard ; the skylark rose above wide fields 
of ripening com. And Sylvia was glad of the morning, for 
night had brought her no slumber. 

She had been lying broad awake on the sofa, which made a 
comfortable bed enough, thinking of that woman upstairs; 
thinking of her with anguish that gnawed her heart, until she 
fancied that no joys of after-days could ever take the taste of 
this bitter out of her mouth. Her mother ! She shivered as 
the words shaped themselves, even in the silence of her soul. So 
degraded, so guilty, so destitute ; and yet her mother. Sylvia's 
mind was not wide enough to see that in that very destitution, 
outcome of long sorrowful years, there lay the sublimity of atone- 
ment ; that this mother in her rags and helplessness was the 
modern type of the true Magdalen ; the woman who has washed 
out her sin in the deep gulf of earthly woe, and can look up to 
Heaven, humble, but not despairing. Sylvia only comprehended 
that her mother had fallen. To hor the poverty seemed the out- 
ward symbol of the fall. 

Could she ever acknowledge this degraded one, Bven to her 
little world, above all to Edmund StandenP She shuddered at 
the thought. This horror, this depth of humiliation, must be 
avoided. She did not pause to consider how hard a thing it is 
for a child to deny its mother — a sin second only to denial of it« 
God. She only thought of how the revelation of this woman's 
existence must be prevented ; but here she felt herself helpless. 
If Mrs. Carford were to go out into Hedingham this very day, 
and tell her miserable story, who was to gainsay her — who was 
to deny her claim P 

" If I were only rich," thought Sylvia, with a bitter sigh, " I 
would give her money, and she might go away and live peace- 
fully somewhere, and never trouble ns any mf»'-A. "Rut I am 



^Alas I our Lip9 are Held so Far Apart.*^ 95 

helpless and penniless, and shall be penniless all my life, I sup- 
pose." 

She recalled Edmnnd Standen*s hopeful talk abont their 
fotnre; and her keen intellect, sharpened in necessity's stem 
school, perceived how airy was the foundation on which he based 
the pillars of his palace. Olande Melnotte, painting that fancied 
home beside tiie ItaHan lake, was a consdons impostor. Poor 
Edmnnd, when he glibly set forth the charms of domestic life 
upon an unknown income, only imposed upon himself. Yet the 
suburban villa he described had hardly & surer foundation than 
Claude's marble roof. 

" Shall I ever sink as low as that ? " wondered Sylvia — thai 
being the dismal figure on which she had gazed last night. The 
thought that such decay was possible, even for her, filled her 
soul with melancholy. She surveyed her lover's prospects with 
the cold eye of common sense. 

Love sees everything in his own rosy hue, fair as earth in 
the warm glow of a summer morning, or sunset's golden haze. 
Common sense revealed the picture with every line cut sharply 
against winter's dull gray sky. 

Seriously, then, what were Edmund's prospects? Without 
experience of commerce or finance he hoped to obtain a situation 
in a bank, and four or five hundred a year, on the strength of 
his dead father's name. Suppose the situation were refused to 
liim — or suppose he held it a little while, and, beguiled by a 
seeming promise of prosperity, they two began life together, 
until in some evil hour he lost his position at the bank, through 
incapacity, ill-health, or sheer ill-luck. 

The prospect was not enchanting. 

Nor was there a wide choice of occupation for Mr. Standen. 
Young as he was, he was almost too old to begin a learned pro- 
fession, and to succeed in a profession nowadays a man should 
have either superlative talent or powerful friends. Friends 
Edmund had none, except his mother's ^and relations, the de 
Bossineys, who hved in a stony mansion m the far west of Corn- 
wall, and were unknown beyond the adjacent post town. Ha 
was certainly clever ; in the way in which five young men out 
of ten are clever. He had read a good deal, could talk well, 
possessed tastes decidedly intellectual ; but of the genius of a 
Thnrlow, a Blomfield, a Paget, he had as yet shown the world 
no indication. 

Sylvia turned upon her sleepless couch and sighed, and hated 
Mrs. Standen a httle more vehemently than before. Edmund 
was made to be a coimtry gentleman of the new school, inteUi* 
cent, philanthropic, useful in the vestry and quarter sessions, and 
oestined in ripe middle age to blossom into a member of parlia* 
ment. This was his vocation; and missing this, what covddhd^ 



96 Xaken at the Ftooi. 

be bnt a waif and a stray, a mere weed tossed upon life'a 
troubled ocean P And in a fate so nncertain bis fellow-weed 
Sylvia bad no wisb to be entangled. 

" But I love him too dearly to give him up," she said to her- 
self, with another twist of her restless head upon that sleep* 
refusing pillow. " I never, never could give nim up. Yet 
I almost wish that he could see the folly of our engagement 
and give me up." 

Last night — before the coming of that fatal stranger — she had 
considered her father an inexorable tyrant. To-day he seemed 
to her only a man of the world. 

It was but natural that to his worldly eyes the engagement 
must seem foolish — almost to idiotcy. 

" And how inconsistent Edmund is, poor fellow," she thought. 
" Only the day before yesterday he was for having our banns 
given out next Sunday, and yesterday he talked as coolly as pos- 
sible about waiting a year for our marriage." 

Whereby it will be seen that Miss Oarew had taken it upon 
herself to overhear a oonversation which so nearly concerned ner 
own interests. 



CHAPTER XVh 

••so YOUNG AND SO UNTENDEB.** 

Stlvia rose before six, flung open casement and door, and Idk 
the light of glorious day and the sweet morning air in upon 
the parlour. She performed her toilet in the small scullery, 
where there was an ample supply of that cold spring water 
wliich is beauty's best balm. Then, arrayed in her neat print 
dress — washed and ironed by her own hands and always fresh — 
she swept and dusted the sitting-room — ^lit the kitchen fire — 
laid the breakfast tables-gathered a bunch of newly opened 
flowers to brighten it — boiled some eggs — and made the tea. 

The uninvited guest came downstairs while Sylvia was busied 
with these last duties. In the daylight, whicu is no friend to 
haggard faces or shabby garments, Mrs. Oarford looked even 
older and more worn than she had looked last night ; but she 
had contrived to dress herself in those limp and faded rags 
with a neatness which made them almost respectable. She 
had made good use of the big can of cold water in Sylvia's 
room to remove the stains of travel, the grime of flying smuts 
from the engine, the dust of the road. Her hair, whose faded 
auburn was almost obscured by advancing grayness, was now 
smoothly handed across the troubled brow. She had washed 



** So Yomng and so Untendery 97 

■ ■ ■ - t 

her poor rag of ^ a collar before going to bed, and pressed it 
under Sylvia's big Bible, the gifb of Ihe kind Yicar. She had 
read a chapter in that sacred book, before she laj down; 
perhaps with a more earnest spirit than had ever inspired its 
nappier possessor. 

Sylvia saw the poor attempt at decency, but felt that the 
woman looked not the less a panper. She had seen women in 
the workhonse better dressed. She made a mental survey of her 
own limited wardrobe, considering whether she conld spare • 
gown for this hapless creature. But the gowns were so few, 
and Sylvia needed them all; even the old ones, for they helped 
to save the new. 

"I hope you slept pretty welly" she said, in reply to the 
stranger's timid salutation. 

"Thank you, Miss Oarew. Yes, pretty well. I am not a 
sound sleeper at the best of times. I have such bad dreams." 

" Indeed," murmured Sylvia coldly. She dared not be friendly 
It might give the intruder encouragement. And in her restless 
heart there was a voice that kept saying — ''When will she 
goP" 

"Dreams of the dead — or of those who are dead to me — 
for my dead are among the living. They visit me in my dreams, 
and are even kind. Yet the dreams are sad, because I know they 
are false. I keep saying to myself, ' It is only a shadow. It 
will fade!"' 

Sylvia gave a feint si^h, and then began to cut bread-and- 
butter wiui a business-like air, as if to put an end to senti- 
mentaJiiy. 

" If there were not another world where all wrongs shall be 
righted — ^where we shall be permitted to begin new lives, warned 
by the experience of sorrow — who among us could bear the 

Sain we suffer hereP But there is — there must be a better 
fe. Christ did not deceive us. This dark riddle will be solved 
above." 

Mrs. Garford raised her eyes to the summer heaven with a look 
that made th«m once more beautiful. She was standing in the 
doorway, drinking in the fresh morning air. Sylvia repented 
ber folly in leaving the door open. People might pass the gate 
and see the stranger, and be moved to inquire about her. 

" You had better come away from the door," she said. " The 
morning air is chilly. Come and sit down to your breakfast. You 
needn't wait for papa — he's always late." 

Mrs. Garford divined the motive of this polite 8j>eech. 

** You don't want me to be seen," she said, coioing away from 
the door. 

"Oh," said Sylvia, blushing, "it isn't exactly that; but 
people in Hedingham do talk sa" 



98 Ibken ai the Flood. 

m 

Mis. Garford gave a little fligh, and seated kerself in thepIaM 
indicated. Sylvia coald not avoid taking the opposite cliair» 
before the teapot, and thus the two fonnd thexnselves seated 
face to face, for the first time within the memory of one of 
thorn. 

The other remembered a smartly famished nnrsery in a 
suburban villa, and a little petted child of three years old, in a 
wliito muslin frock bedizened with bine ribbons, sitting np in a 
high chair, pouring make-believe tea out of a toy teapot. The 
picture she saw to-day strangely recalled that phantom picture 
of the past. 

** Do you take milk and sugar P " asked Sylvia politely. 

"Who— IP" 

Tlio woman looked at her helplessly for a moment, and then 
burst into tears, the first she hod been seen to shed since she 
had entered that house, save by the watchful eyes of those angels 
who guard penitent sinners. 

Sylvia looked distressed, but kept her place, and did not stretch 
out so much as a finger towards tne stranger. 

" IVay don't crjr," she said, " crying never does any good." 

1^1 rs. Oarford dried her tears, slowly, silently. She stole a look 
at the face opposite her, and its indifference pierced her heart. 

" But she knows nothiog," she thought, " why should I ex- 
l>c»ot her to pity meP" 

She had eaten eagerly last night; but the sharp pangs of 
hunger once relieved, appetite was lanflruid. She drank her 
tea, 9 to one morsel of bread, and declinea the egg which Sylvia 
offered. 

They sat in silence, till the ticking of the Dutch dock became 
a painful sound to both. Then Mrs. Garford turned her sad 
eyes towards the o^n casement, beyond which the fiower garden 
smiled in the morning sun, bees humming, birds chirping, a look 
of happiness over all things. Dark beyond rose the yew hedge 
and the tombstonss, and to these the stranger's eyes wandered 
longingly. Oh, to rest till the end of time amidst those cool 
shadows of cypress and yew, and to wake in eternity a new 
creature I 

" Yon have a pretty garden," she said nei vously, just to break 
the silonco. 

"Do yon think it pret^P I almost hate it for being the 
eame year after year. The same old hollyhocks, the same 
icarlet-runnera. straggling all over the walks and climbing np 
I he pear tn* ^; the same roses, the same earwigs almost, I 
')elieve," said Sylvia impatiently. "At the "Vicarage they 
ar^ always* making improvements, ferneries and rosanes and 
vsrildernesBus. But then they have plenty of money and can do 
•in/tJ'ing." 



^ 80 Toung and so Untender/' 99 

" Do yoa think money alone can give happiness P" asked Mr& 
Oarford. 

" Do you think anybody can be happy without it P " asked 
Sylvia. 

" No, the sting of poverty goes deep, but I have seen misery 
that wealth could not lighten. If I could have my prayers 
granted for one I fondly loved, I should pray God to make her 
content with simple jojrs, happy in obscurity." 

Sylvia was not listening. Sne was asking herself that un- 
answerable question — " When will she go ?*' This suspense was 
dreadful. Mary Peter or Alice Cook might come in at any 
moment, and how was she to explain the presence of this shabby 
vtrangerP 

She felt relieved when her father came down. He would arrange 
matters no doubt. He could be decisive enough on occasion. 

He came into the room, gave Mrs. Carford a cool nod, and 
took his seat at the table. His daughter ministered to him, 
buttered his crisp toast, poured out nis tea, laid the county 
newspaper by his plate. 

"Thanks. You can go into the garden, Sylvia, while this lady 
and I talk. She may want my ad^ ice about — about — proceed- 
ing with her journey." 

Sylvia obeyed, nothing loth to escape the oppression of that 
atmosphere. She went from the garden to the churchyard, to 
that very spot where in yesterday's warm noontide she had 
parted from her lover. Here had he clasped her to his true 
heart ; here made her swear eternal fidelity. 

And should she not be faithful ? 

" I did not know there was so much trouble in the world yes- 
terday," she thought wonderingly, for the time had seemed to 
her very much out of joint even yesterday. " I wasn't happy 
then, but I didn't know I had a wretched mother, whom I should 
be ashamed to own." 

She threw herself upon the tomb where she had sat after 
yesterday's parting, and gave a gasping sob and then a long 
dejected sigh. 

A rustle of drapery sounded close to her, a little gloved hand 
was gently laid upon hers. 

" I was just coming to see you. Miss Carew," said a sweet 
voice. " I know how sad you must feel about Edmund." 

Sylvia sat bolt upright in a moment and faced the sympa- 
thizer. It was Miss Bochdale, who had been on her way to the 
school-house when Sylvia flung herself upon the tomo. She 
thought it a duty to comfort the girl in Edmund's absence, and 
that despairing self-abandonment had touched her heart. 

" She must love him very dearly to grieve so deeply," she 
reflected. " Yet I thought her shallow and frivolo^as." 



100 Ihien at ike Flood. 

"Thauk yon, you're very good," faltered Sylvia nervonslTt 
tbinkinff how beat to prevent any enoonnter between Miss Boon- 
dale and that fatal ffuest. " I'm sure I didn't think you'd trouble 
yoirself about me.* 

** Isn't it natural that I should be interested in you P" asked 
Esther. " Edmund and I have been brought up together like 
brother and sister. How can I help being interested in — ^his— 
future — wife P " 

^he said the words slowly, as if they were a little strange to 
her. 

" I thought you were all against me,'* said Sylvia coldly. 

"No one is agaiunt you, now. Mrs. Standen opposed the 
engagement at first, y«wi were such a stranger to her, you know; 
but I believe she is reconciled to it now." 

** Beconciled ! When she means to disinherit her son !*' cried 
Sylvia scomfullv. 

" Who can teU what she may do P As years go by she may 
grow to love you. How can she refuse you her affection if you 
are a good wife to her son P ** 

" And how are we to live till she relents P*' asked Sylvia 

" Edmund will find a way to earn his own living. There is 
something noble in a man who marks out his catu career ; and 
I am sure Edmund is capable of winning success without any 
help from his father's fortune." 

" What a noble scorn of money you rich people have!" said 
Sylvia. 

Esther did not like the girl's tone. Her grief had touched 
Miss Eochdale's kind heart, her cynicism repelled. 

" I want to be your friend, if I can," she said gently. "When 
you and Edmund are married we shall be almost like sisters, for 
I always think of him as a brother." 

** Yery right and proper," thought Sylvia, yet she was not 
quick to respond to Miss Eochdale's kindness, or to believe in 
her sincerity. And she had chosen the most awkward time for 
her visit. 

" I came to tell you that Edmund reached London safely," 
said Esther, as if he had gone to Kamtchatka or Grand Cairo. 
" Auntie had a few lines from him this morning, written at the 
station. Short as the letter was, there was a line about you." 

** Beally," cried Sylvia, brightening, and favouring Miss Roch- 
dale with the first smile she had l^stowed upon ner. " Dear 
Edmund," she murmured softly. 

" Only one line — * Be kind to my Sylvia,* ** 

" His Syhna. Yes, I am his with all my -heart," the girl 
answered, with a little gush of feeling. For a moment she for- 
got that her lover could give her only a life which must at least 
begin with man's vulvar struggle for daily bread. For a mo« 



* So Toung and 90 Untender.'* 101 

ment she forgot that dark vision of a possible future whicli the 
sight of Mn. Oarfcnxl had evoked. 

^We have only known each other three short months, and 
jet we are all the world to each other," she said softly. ** If ao j 
one were to tell me Edmnnd was dead, it wonld be the same as 
if they said the world had come to an end. My world would 
have perished. Strange, isn't it P " 

** It is the great mystery of love,** answered Esther calmlv. 
** Now Edmnnd and I nave lived together fourteen years, with- 
out one thought of such love as you speak of.** 

" How comd one fall in love with a person one saw every 
day P " exclaimed Sylvia. ** Love must be the beginning of a 
new life, not the continuation of an old one. I never thought I 
cared for beautiful landscapes till one day papa took me to 
Fairlie Hill, and I looked down from that great height upon a 
world I had never seen before, and felt a rapture that was like 
human love. I had heard people talk about the beauty of this 
place — but I knew it too well to see its prettiness." 

" And we are to be friends, Sylvia? asked Miss Rochdale, 
with winning sweetness. 

"If you like," answered the other, somewhat indifferently. 
** But I am sure our house is hardly fit for you to come to, with 
those horrid noisy boys." 

** But I like school children, even if they are noisy. I may 
come sometimes, may not I, and keep you company for an hour 
or two when you are dull P " 

** Sometimes P Oh, yes, certainly, if you life. I shall always 
be glad to see you," answered Sylvia, fondly hoping that Miss 
Rochdale would not want to go to the school-house to-day. That 
troublesome ^est could hardly be gone yet, however decisive 
Mr. Oarew might be. 

" I — I won't ask you to come home with me this morning," she 
said, trying to seem unconcerned, " for school is just beginning. 
Hark, you can hear the boys shouting," as shrill peals pierced 
the stiU air; "but whenever you like to come, I'm sure 1 shall 
be pleased.** 

" Then I will come once a week while Edmund is away ; and 
I can bring you a new book now and then from the book club. 
I daresay you are fond of readi/ig," added the young lady, with 
an unconscious air of superiority. She could only consider 
Sylvia a young person of lowly station, who might be, perhaps, 
in advance of other youn^ women of the same degree. 

" Yes," answered Sylvia, " books are about the only thing 
worth living for in such a place as this. I hke German books 
best when I can get them. TL^y set one thinking .'* 

Miss Bochdale looked surprised. 

''Do jou read OermanP" she asked. 



102 Tnk&n at tie Flood. 

"Yes, I taagbt myself Frencli and German befoxe I w«C 




praase, 
only \vant'ed to read the book« IWd'flilCfl^^fiSoM'm^ctbet IJool 
Goethe, Schiller, Victor Hugo — and so on. I did not want to 
feel myself shut out from the world th^.^yll created." 

Esther was surprised. She had beeQ vpavaded at the slow 
academical pace through the gralhiha'fs'bf 1^ three chief conti- 
noiital tongues — had read Sylvio PellifK) in Italian, a few mild 
German stories of the Marchen class, ddil^ted to children of 
six. She could speak French with the nicest adherence to rule, 
and the Monkhampton accent, imparted by a Swiss-French 

governess ; but as for reading Goethe or Schiller, save in such 
omoBopathio doses as are filtered through the pag^ of a 
"Select Reader," Miss Rochdale had never dreamed of such 
a thing. 

She gave a little sigh that was almost envious, if so nnselfish 
a soul could feel envy. 

"What a companion this girl must be for Edmund," she 
thought, " and how stupid I must seem after her." 

" I shall bring you some of Edmund's books," she said kindly. 
" I'm sure he won't mind. And now good-bye. I came here 
directly after breakfast on purpose to tell you the good news of 
his sa^ arrival ; but another tmie I shall come in the afternoon, 
when you're at leisure." 

She pressed Sylvia's hand and departed. The girl watched 
her as she walked along the narrow path. 

How fresh and brignt her pretty mauve and white mn^n 
dress looked, and the neat little black silk jacket and the linen 
collar, and broad cuffs with massive gold studs ; and the dainty 
little brown straw hat with its graceful feather. Sylvia watched 
her with a sigh. 

"When shall I ever be able to dress as well as that?" she 
thought. " Simple as those things are they must have cost 
ever so much money." 



CHAPTER XVTL 

"PAET NOW9 PABT WELL* PABT WIDE APART." 

While Sylvia was in the churchyard, Mr. and Mrs. Oarford, 
aXias Oarew, were coming to an amicable settlement in the 
Bchool-house parlonr. 

Now, my good soul," said the schoolmaster, as his wife sat 
osite him. with downcast ores. " I think yon mnst see bv 



« 



opposite him, with downcast ^es, " I think yon 



^:Bari Now, Part Well, Fart Wide AparV' 103 

this time ezactlj how matters stand, and that yonr evil genius 
conld hardly have inspired yon witii a worse idea than that 
of coming to seek help from me. It wonld have been inhuman 
to turn you out of doors last night, so I gave you your daughter's 
bedroom. But, as your own good sense must show you, it 
wouldn't do for you to occupy it a second night. You don't 
want to confess your relationship to Sylvia. I appreciate the 
delicacy of a reserve which is only natural under the circum- 
stances. When you left your child seventeen years ago you 
forfeited the right to call her daughter. Useless now to say, 
• 1 am your mother.* She would answer in those awful words 
of the Grospel, * I never knew you.' " 

" True," cried the wanderer, with a sob, 

" Such bein^ the case, the sooner you leave this house and 
this neighbourhood the better. Out of my poverty — my entire 
income is less than a pound a week — I will give you a sovereigu, 
enough to take you back to London and repay your landlady's 
loan. You will, at any rate, be no worse off than when you 
undertook this foolish journey." 

" And no better. Oh, James," cried Mrs. Oarford piteously, 
** can you do nothing more for me P Let me stop here, and be 
your servant, your drudge without wages. I can sleep in a 
scullery. I shall cost you so little, and no one shall ever hear 
my lips betray the link between us." 

" My good soul," said Mr. Carew, " be reasonable I I could a3 
well afford to keep an elephant as a servant; and to set up a 
housekeeper would be to set every tongue in Hedingham 
waeging. People know that I have just enough to feed myself 
and my daughter. And as to being my drudge, and sleeping in 
my sculleiy,. surely there is somelK)dy in all the vast world of 
London who would take you as a drudge without wages. You 
needn't have come all the way to Hedingham in search of such 
a situation as that." 

"I am not strong, James. I have been out charing, but 
people complained th&t I didn't do work enough, and that I set 
about it awkwardly. They found out that I was a broken-down 
lady, and that went agaanst me." 

" Very sad," exclaimed Mr. Carew, with a sigh, half pity, hall 
impatience. "I see only one resource open to you." 

** And what is that ?" asked his wife eagerly. 

^ An appeal to Mr. Mowbray. Let him eive yoa some small 
pension, enough to keep you from starving.' 

" No, James," she answered with dignity. " I shall never do 
that. Let the worst come, I cfm starve. It is only six or seven 
days' pain, and — a paragraph in the newspapers." 

She took np the sovereign which her humnd had laid upon 
Ihe table. 



lOi Tbken ai the Flood. 

** Fm sorry to rob yoa of it» James. Bnt yon wouldn't like 
me to be seen wandering about here. . This wiU take me back to 
London — the great onilf which swallows up ^o many sorrows !** 

She had brought her bonnet and shawl downstairs with her, 
knowing that her departure was near. She put them on with 
her feeme, faltering hands, and was ready to begin her journey. 

" Good-bye, James," she said, stretching out her hand. 

He took it reluctantly, and there was no heartiness in his 
grasp. 

*' Say that you forgive me, James. We are both much nearer 
the grave than when I wronged you." 

"It's easy to say forgive. Well, we were both sinners. I 
have no right to be hara. What was it tempted you to leave 
meP" 

" His love," she answered ; " he loved me as you had nevw 
done. If you could know how he bore with me in those sorrowful 
years, till my remorse wore out even his patience. I think he 
would have been true to the very end, even though he had grown 
weary. But I thank God for giving me strength to leave him— 
to tread the stony way of penitence. It has been made very 
hard to me ; but I have never regretted that I chose it while lift 
still seemed to smile." 

"A false smile," said Mr. Garew. "Well, you were but a 
foolish child when I married you; and I might have been a 
better guardian. We have maired our lives, both of us. 
Qood-bye^** 

Thus they parted, husband and wife, who had met again after 
seventeen years of severance. Like the memory of a dream 
seemed the past to both. So dim, so strange, so irrecoverable. 

At the garden-gate Mrs. Carford met Sylvia. 

"Are you going awayP'' asked the girl, looking at her 
curiously. 

" Yes." 

"For 'good P" 

The woman smiled at the mockery in the words. 

"For ever," she answered. "There is no hole or comer for 
me in your father's house. I only asked for food and shelter, 
but he cannot give me even those. 

" We are so poor," said Sylvia, " you'd hardly believe how 
)oor; for we try to put a decent face upon things, and not seem 
juch beggars as we are. I am sorry papa cannot do anything 
to help you." 

" I am sorry too, my dear," replied the woman, with a tender 
look ; " I should like to live near you, even if it were in the 
nearest workhouse." 

That touch of tenderness embarrassed Sylvia. 

^ I am very sorry for you," she r&peatea, " and if ever I am 



'':Bar% Now, Tart Well, Fart Wide Apart:* 105 

well off, which I don't suppose I ever shall be, I might be able 
to help you. . Can you give me any address where I could write 
to if ever I had a little money to send you P " 

"How good jou are!" cried Mrs. Oarford. "Yes, there is my 
landlady, she is a kind soul, and would keep a letter for me, 
even if I were not with her, for Heaven knows hoyi long she 
may be able to give me the shelter of a room which I can seldom 
pay for two we^s running. See, dear young lady, here is the 
address." 

She gave Sylvia an old envelope, on which was written* 
•• Mrs. Carford, care of Mrs. Wood, JBell-alley, Fetter-lane." ^ 

" It isn't so much the chance of your helpmg me that I think 
of," she said, deeply moved, " as the kindness that put such a 
thing into your head. Good-bye, my dear. I am going out 
into a world which is very cruel to the poor and weak. It's 
hardly likely that yon and I will ever meet again. Let me kiss 
you l>efore I go." 

Sylvia submitted to that kiss, returned it even ; and with a 
blessing, spoken amidst sobs, her mother left her. 



CHAPTER XVIIJ. 

PEBRIAM PLACE. 

pEBBiiX Place had been built by a certain Godfrey Perriam in 
the days of Queen Anne, on the site where a previous Perriam 
Place had stood for centuries before — the Pemams being old in 
tiie land. When this new Perriam was built, Monkhampton 
returned its member ; and the free and independent electors, to 
the number of seven-and-twenty, were as serfs and vassals to 
Sir Grodfrey Perriam. He paid tJiem for their allegiance — he, 
or the member he made them vote for — ^but none ever dreamed 
of voting against Sir Godfrey's nominee. 

For a great many years the present red brick building haa 
been call^ the New Place ; but now age had mellowed its ruddy 
tonei. The magnolias against the southern front stretched 
high and wide ; the mansion had ripened like the fruit on the 
garden walls with the passage of years. 

Perriam Place consisted of a handsome pedimented centre 
and two massive wings. Sculptured garlands adorned the stone 
frieze — ^the same garlands were repeated, in little, over doors 
and windows. Before the house stretched a noble lawn, shaded 
en one side by a damp of cedars^ on the other by a group of 



106 Tuien at the Mood. 

giant maples. On the left of the honse lay the flower ^rden, t 
model of old-fashioned horticnltore, nnimproved by the Capa* 
bility Browns of later years. On tiie right were the kitchen 

faraens, rich in commonplace vegetables, and boasting no 
azzling range of orchard^onses, pineries, and vineries — only 
an old hot-bed or two where the peasant gardeners grew 
encumbers in the cucumber season. But the want of orchard- 
houses need be felt but little in a climate where green peas 
could be ^rown till November, and where fat plums and ruddy 
peaches ripened uncared for on the buttressed walls. 

Perriam Place of to day was exactly like the Perriam Place of 
a hundred years ago. Entering that cool, stone paved hall, 
and surrounded by that old-fashioned fdrniture, you might have 
fancied that Time had grown no older than the date of yonder 
eight-day clock, which bore its age upon its face, in quaint 
Boman numerals, like the title-page of an old book. It was a 
fundamental principle with the rerriams not to spend any 
money which they could honourably avoid spending. They 
were not miserly or inhospitable — ^they lived as gentlemen 
should live — dispensed the orthodox benevolence of country 

gentlemen — ^kept a good table in dining parlour and servants' 
all — rode good horses— but they never frittered away money. 
Art they ignored altogether. No canvas, save that of a family 
portrait, ever graced the walls of Perriam. A few mezzotint 
engravings — Oxford, Bolingbroke, Pope, Garrick, the great Lord 
Chatham, and Dr. Johnson — ^graced the oak panelhng in the 
breakfast parlour; and these prints were the newest in the 
house. Perriams succeeded their fathers, and followed one 
another along the trodden way to Lethe, but no Perriam ever 
added to or improved the mansion. The things which had 
satisfied their forefathers satisfied them. They were eminently 
conservative— objected to new-fangled ways, took their after- 
dinner wine at a table whose broad expanse of mahogany re- 
flected the ruby of the vintage, and avoided all superfluous 
expenditure of money. If the Perriam housekeeper, intent upon 
the glory of the house, ventured to hint at any change in the 
details of a banquet, to suggest that this or that was the fashion 
up in London, freezing was the reply of her lord. 

" Fashion I " exelaimed Sir Aubrey. ** What do I care about 
fashion? Do you suppose it matters to me what new-fangled 
trumpery is invented for parvenu stockbrokers and Manchester 
cotton lords P They can nave no distinction except in wasting 
money. Let my table be laid as it was when Lora Bolingbroke 
visited my great-grandfather." 

Lord Bolmgbroke always silenced the housekeeper. He was 
almost a living presence at Perriam. The best of the spare 
bedchambers was still called the Bolingbroke Boom. Brilliant 



Perriam Place. 107 

St. Jolin had slept in it when new Perriam Place was only a 
year old. Heaven knows what schemes had filled the busy 
head that pressed yonder {>illows. Years after the fallen states- 
man had retumed to Perriam for a little while, a disappoisted 
man, on whose onise' mar^eHons life now shoiid no*^ lignt slive 
that of woman's fehfifhrWet "'' • ' 

The furnitnre at Perrii^ Vras old, sombre, but handsome; 
the more modem portion wus of the famous Chippendale school 
— perhaps the only original and artistic furniture which 
England ever produced. The rich glow of the prevailing 
mahogany was relieved and set off by satinwood stringings. 
There were dainty Pembroke tables mth reeded legs, sideboards 
with brass handles and claw and ball feet, capacious arm-chairs 
with lyre- shaped backs, carved by a chisel as correct and deli- 
cate in its lines as nature herself, whatnots of lightest build, yet 
firm as the Eddystone Lighthouse — furniture which in its very 
simplicity had a grace unknown to the florid ornamentation and 
gilded pitch pine of the sham Louis- Quatorze school. The 
draperies were of the same date as the chairs and tables; 
Indian brocaded curtains, whose damask had once been vivid as 
the plumage of tropical birds, still adorned the drawing-room, 
and, although faded, looked handsomer than any modern fabric. 
Of ornament there was very little in that vast saloon with its 
seven long windows and deep bay at the end overlooking the 
flower garaen. Two monster vases of Worcester china, rich in 
purple and gold, surmounted a Florentine marble table in the 
Day, a table that had stood there in the days of Lord Boling- 
broke. A second pair of jars, huge and oriental, adorned the 
other end of the room, on either side the wide hearth. The tall 
marble chimney-piece, on Corinthian columns, bore no ornament 
save clock and candelabra of bronze, mounted on pedestals of 
black marble, which coldly contrasted the veinless white of the 
slab that sustained them. 

No modem frivolities crowded this vast saloon. No Daven- 
port, or dos'drdos, or central ottoman marred its stem simplicity. 
r(o fernery or aauarium bespoke the tastes of some feminine 
occupant. No photographic album or stereoscope offered diver- 
sion to the i^e visitor. The cell of a model prison could hardly 
have been less fruitful in diversion for the untninking mind. The 
amateur of architecture might find something to admire in the 
three-feet deep cornice, with its variety of moulding and egg-and- 
dart border, but, save in its architectural beauties, the room was 
barren of interest. 

Yet to the thinker there was some charm in its very repose. 
That old-world look which told of days gone by, when the world 
was a century and a half younger. The present lord of Perriam 
was very proud of his drawing-room, or saloon^ oa thft Cthasahnt 



108 Taken at the Flood. 

was veligionsly entiilecL Kot for kingdoms woald he lia^is 
changed an object in that soberly furnished apartment. And 
b^ tms wise conservatism he at once testified his reverence for 
his ancestors, and saved his own money. 

" Photographic album I " he exclaimed, when some frivolous 
person suggested that he should adorn one of the GhippendEile 
tables with that refuge of the mindless guest. " There were no 
photograph albums in the time of Bolingbroke, and society was 
a great deal more brilliant then than it is now. If people want 
to amuse themselves, let them read Pope. There's a fine edition 
in yonder bookcase." 

And the baronet pointed the finger of triumph at e dwarf 
bookcase defended by brass lattices which extended along one 
side of his saloon.^ Sere neatly ranged were all those authors 
whose reputation increases daily among a generation by which 
they are for the most part unread — Pope, Prior, Gay, Swift, St. 
John, Addison, and Steele. Sir Aubrey forgot that the key of 
that treasury had been mislaid fifteen years ago, and that the 
books were dusted with a feather brush that went between those 
criss-crossed wires. 

In the west front were Sir Aubrey's apartments — ^bedroom 
vast, gloomy, dressing-room larger than most modem bedrooms, 
study a mere closet; and the southern end of the house, com- 
municating, by a narrow passage, with the baronet's rooms, and 
overlooking the kitchen garden, were the apartments which had 
been occupied without change for the last thii-ty years by Sir 
Aubrey's brother, Mordred Perriam. The ancient Saxon name 
was almost Mr. Perriam's sole heritage from his ancient race, 
and but for a stray two hundred a year that came to him from 
the maternal side of the house, Mordred Perriam would have 
been dependent upon his brother for support. As it was, Mr. 
Perriam lived with his brother, and lived free of expense. He 
spent the greater part of his own income upon his library, 
a heterogeneous collection of second-hand books, bought hap« 
hazard of those provincial booksellers with whom he kept up a 
never-ending correspondence. They were such volumes as Martin 
Scriblerus or Dominie Sampson might have rejoiced in, but 
which would hardly have provoked the envy of a modem col- 
lector. Brown leather bindings ; ancient eoitions in which the 
least voluminous author geneially ran into forty volumes ; queer 
old ribbed paper, queer old type-^no single set perfect. Authors 
whose names are only preserved in the Dunciad ; authors whose 
brief span of popularity has left no record whatever. English 
obscnnties, French obscurities, Boman obscurities, German 
obscurities, cumbered the book-worm's shelves, till to hunt for 
a genuine classic amidst that nncatalogued chaos was half a 
day's labour. 



Perriam Place* 109 

Hr. Perriam Lad began many catalognes ; straggling on with 
infinite toil, trotting to and fro between his desk and tne sbolvoB 
with meekest patience; bnt the catalogues always ended in 
muddle. He was always bnying, and the supplementary cata- 
logue which his latest purchases rendered necessary, bothered 
his somewhat feeble brains. His fly-leaves and addenda grew 
thicker than the original volume, and he abandoned his task 
in wild despair. After all, he knew his books, and could have 
recited all their titles, though perhaps in many cases un- 
familiar with their contents. He used to imagine that he had 
a particular desire to read such and such an author, till he got 
the author at home. But the volumes once snug on his shelves 
the desire seemed somehow appeased. When his learned fnends 
talked of an author, Mr. Pemam used to say, " Ah ! I've got 
him." He was too honest to say, " I've read him." 

The apartments devoted to Mr. Perriam were airy and spacious 
like all the rest of the house. But large as they were his books 
overran them. From floor to ceiling, under the windows, over 
the mantelpiece, wherever a shelf could be put, appeared those 
endless rows of brown-backed volumes, hardly brightened here 
and there by the faded crimson labels of some later editions. 
Mr. Perriam could not afford to be a connoisseur in bindings. 
No costlv tooled calf, no gilded vellum, no perfumed russia, 
gratified his sense of scent or feeling. But in his very poverty 
there lurked a blessing. He had taught himself to patch the 
old bindings, to stain, and sprinkle, and marble the dust- 
blackened edges, and he never was more serenely content than 
when he sat before his work-table, and dabbed and fitted, and 
pasted and furbished the battered old volumes with the aid of 
a glue-pot, a few scraps of calfskin, a little vermilion, a big pair 
of scissors, and inexhaustible patience. In his heart of hearts 
Mr. Perriam felt that could he begin life again he would wish to 
be a bookbinder. 

Mr. Perriam's library overlooked the kitchen garden. It was 
a spacious room with a deep bay like that wmch at the other 
extremity of the house formed the end of the drawing-room. In 
the davb when there were children at Perriam, this room had 
been the nursery. Immediately adjoining it was Mr. Perriam's 
bedchamber, and next to that a smallish dressing-room, which 
communicated, by means of a dark little passage, with Sir 
Aubrey's bedroom. The brothers were honestly attached to each 
other, different as were their habits, and liked to be within call 
of each other. Sir Aubrey's valet slept in his master's dressing- 
room ; but Mr. Perriam had no body servant. That was a 
luxury, or an encumbrance, which he persistently denied him- 
self. Nor would his wardrobe have afforded either employment 
cur perquisites for a ralet. He never possessed but oua snitk ^ 



110 TaJken at the Mood. 

clothed, wore those garments nearly threadbare, and passed them 
on when done with to an nnderlins in the garden ; a deaf old 
man who wheeled a barrow of dead leaves aU the autumn, and 
rolled the lawns and gravel walks when there were no leaves 
to fill his barrow. Tms old gardener nsed to prowl about the 
gardens looking like the wraith or doable of Mr« Perriam. 

When there were visitors at the Place Mr. Perriam rarely 
showed himself. When Sir Aubrey had no guests the brothers 
dined together ; but while the baronet was away Mr. Perriam 
always dmed in his own den, and turned the leaves of some late 
acquisition as he ate his dinner. He was a slow reader, and had 
been three years poring over an old copy of Dante, and addling 
his poor old brains with the commentaries which obscured the 
text. If he took a walk, it was in the kitchen garden. He liiced 
those prim quadrangles of pot-herbs, the straight narrow wulks, 
the espalier-bounded strawberry beds, the perfect order and quiet 
of the place, and above all he liked to know that no chance 
visitor at Perriam would surprise him there. He brought his 
books here on summer mornings, and paced the paths slowly, 
reading as he walked; or dozed over an open volume, in yonder 
summer-house before the fish-pond, on sultry afternoons. He 
trotted up and down between the bare beds for his constitutional, 
in mid-winter. The kitchen garden was all he knew of the 
external world, and all he cared to know ; so long as he could 
conduct all his transactions with booksellers through the conve- 
nient medium of the post. So passed his harmless uneventful 
life, and if no man could say that Mordred Perriam had ever 
done him a service, assuredly none could charge him with a 
wrong. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

•*LOVB, THOTJ AKT LEADING MB FBOM IHNTKT COLD." 

Sir Aubrey and his brother dined tete-di-tete on the evening of 
that day on which Mrs. Carford left the brief shelter of the 
school-house, to resume her place in life's endless procession. 
The dining-room at Perriam faced the north-west, and com- 
manded a fine side view of the setting sun. One saw the Daj- 
^od sink to his rest without being inconvenienced by his expir- 
mg splendour. 

It was eight o'clock, and that western glory was fading, but 
Sir Aubrey liked the twilight. It was at once poothing and 
economical, and the baronet did not forget how large a cheque 



•^LovBt Thou art Leading Me fiom Wintry CoW^ 111 

lie annually wrote for the Moflkhampton tallow-chandler. People 
talked of the cheapness and brilliancy of gas, but Qneen Anne 
herself conld not nave been more averse from that garish light, 
had it been suddenly introduced to her notice, than was Sir 
Aubrey. Gas at Perriam ! Gras pipes to disfigure those old 
crystal chandeliers which took all the hues of a peacock's breast 
in the sunshine! "August shade of my grandfather I" ex- 
claimed Sir Aubrey, " what Goth can counsel such desecration P " 

Sir Aubrey and his brother sat in the gloaming, and talked; 
or at least Mordred talked and Sir Aubrey made believe to listen. 
"IHie book-worm's harmless babble about his last bargain with a 
Bristol bookseller did not demand much strain upon the listener's 
attention. Sir Aubrey gave a vaguely acquiescent murmur now 
and then, and that was enough. 

Indeed, Sir Aubrey's mind had been wandering a little 
throughout the ceremony of dinner, and now he sat in a 
thon&htful attitude with his glass of claret not diminished, look- 
ins down into the shadowy gulfs of the polished mahogany 
table, as if to read the visions he beheld there. 

It was not of his brother's newly acquired twelve-volume edi- 
tion of Ghatterton that he thought ; but of a fair young face 
he had seen last night in the garden of.Hedingham school- 
house. 

"Mordred," he exclaimed suddenly, "did you ever wonder 
why I have not married ? " 

" No," said Mr. Perriam, " I never wonder. But I should 
think the reason was clear enough to the meanest comprehen- 
sion. You have never forgotten poor Guinivere." 

" Forgotten her ? no ; and never shall forget her. Yet if, at 
^y sober age, it were possible for a man to feel a romantic love 
— the love of a poet rather than a man of the world— do you 
think he ought to trample upon the flower because it has blos- 
somed lateP" 

" Do you mean to say that you have fallen in love ? " askea 
Mordred, aghast. 

" I have seen a face lovely enough to bewitch a saint or n 
hermit — to thaw the coldest heart that time ever froze. I don't 
admit that I'm in love. That would be too great a folly. But 
I feel within me a faculty which I deemed I had long outlived — 
the capacity to fall in love." 

Mordred Perriam put his hands to his head, and rubbed hitt 
icanty gray hair distractedly. He thought his brother was 
going mad. 

" Poor Guinivere,** he said feebly, as if the shade of that 
patrician lady were outraged by Su: Aubrey's folly. " If she 
oould have lived to see this day." 

''If she had lived I might have been the happy father. 4I 



112 Tulen at the Flood. 

many cliildren,** answered Sir Aubrey ; '^ as it is, the estate mnil 
go to Horace Fernam whenever yoa and I are laid beside our 
ancestors." 

" That seems hard,** said Mr. Perriam, who was able to ap- 
preciate this common-sense view of the c^nestion. " If yoa could 
find anybody now to replace Lady Goinivere — of the same rank 
—an alliance which yon might be proud of." 

Sir Aubrey sighed and was silent. Bis chief purpose in 
marriage ought to be to provide himself with an neir. How 
was he to confront that heir in after life if he could not name 
his maternal grandfather — if for all genealogical purposes the 
child were on the maternal side grandfatherless P 

He sighed again, and with increasing despondency. 

" At my age, my dear Mordred, a man can haroly hope to 
marry a duke's daughter. I shall never meet another Guini- 
rere. Lord Bolingbroke's second wife was a Frenchwoman. 
He consulted his heart rather than his interest." 

'* Bolin^broke married the niece of Madame de Maintenon, 
and the widow of a marquis." 

" True, but he married for love,** said Sir Aubrey impatiently. 
*' Late in life a man should marry for love, if he is to marry at 
aU. He has so short a span lefb him in which to be happy. At 
twenty a man can afford to consult his interest, and marry a 
woman he doesn't care for. A youth of domestic misery may 
be compensated by a middle age of worldly success. But at my 
age there is nothing lefb a man to wish for — except happiness." 

Mr. Perriam regarded his brother in helpless wonderment. 
Was this abstract philosophy — or the foolishness of an elderly 
egotist P 

" I should have thought yon were happy in your present posi- 
tion," said the brother mildly. " You have Perriam for a country 
house, and your entresol in the Faubourg St. Honor^ — snug, 
and not very expensive. When you are tired of Perriam, you go 
to Paris. When you are tired of Paris, yon return to Perriam. 
You have boots and slippers, and brushes and combs, and shirts, 
and a dress suit at both places— no packing — ^no bustle — and 
your valet here is your cook and general servant there. What 
couli be pleasanter, if one must move at all P " 

" An empty life, at best," said Sir Aubrey, "and monotonous. 
The fact of the matter is," he went on, in a business-like tone, 
** that for some years past I have felt it my duty to marry. If 
I have shrunk from that duty — preferring the repose and 
sereni^ of a bachelor's life — I have felt myself guilty of moial 
cowarmce. It is hard that Perriam should descend to one who 
18 all but a stranger." 

*' Horace Pemam — a starched prig in the War Office," said 
Mordred. ** There ia not such another kitchen garden in iM 



"* Zove, Thou art Leading Me from Wintry ChW 118 

West of England!" he added, with a sigh'' .If yoa oould find 
some one of suitable rank, I don't say a duke's daughter — but 
of suitable rank — some good old family — bearing awns whioh 
the Perriams need not blush to quarter with their own." 

This was harping on a string which Mordred had been accus* 
tomed to hear twanged by his elder brother. He was surprised 
to find the baronet indiiSerent, or even contemptuous, about this 
question of rank. 

" As to family," he said, "the Perriams ought to be like the 
Bourbons — great enough to give rank to their children without 
aid from the mother. The sons of Louis Qnatorze were aU 
princes. My son will be Sir Aubrey Perriam by-and-by, and 
ne could have been no more than Sir Aubrey Perriam if poor 
Guinivere had been his mother." 

Mordred made haste to agree with his brother. He rarely 
disputed a point with any one, unless it were a purely Uterary 
question, such as the reason of Ovid's exile, or Tasso's madness, 
or the identity of the Man in the Iron Mask, or the authorship 
of Junius's letters. 

" You have seen some one, perhaps, whom you admire — some 
young lady belonging to one of our county families," said 
Mor£ed. He comd not suppose that his brother's eye had 
fiJlen to any lower depth than the county families. 

Sir Aubrey winced. He had been so bigoted a high priest 
in the temple of the family god, and the family ^od was Caste. 
How could he justify such sacrilege as would hQ mvolved iji his 
admimtion of a village schoolmaster's daughter? 

" I have certainly seen some one I admire," he said, with a 
curious shyness, an almost juvenile shame in this late-born 
love. " A youne lady who is very pretty, very amiable, alto- 
gether worthy of admiration. A young lady whose afi'ection 
might make any man proud and happy. But she is not of a 
particularly good family ; or, if her father belongs to an old and 
respectable family, which is not impossible, since his name is a 
good one, he is reduced in circumstances and occupies a some- 
what humble position." 

" A curate, perhaps," suggested Mordred vaguely. 

** No, he is not in the Church." 

** Good gracious," exclaimed Mordred^ with an awed look, 
•you don't mean to say that he is in trade P" 

" No, he is not in trade." 

Mr. Perriam breathed more freely. 

** I am glad of that," he said. " I live so secluded from the 

world that it might seem unimportant to me, but I shouldn't 

like to think that any stigma of that kind could attach to us m 

future; The actual fact might be glossed over in ' Burke's 

Landed Gentry ;' but i^ple would remember it all tJb^ «aaE&s6!^ 

Ik 



114 Talen at the Flood. 

"Never mind details, my dear MordreJ," retorned Six 
Aubrey ; " after all, what I have been talking about is perhapt 
but an idle dream." 

" You ought to marry/' eaid Mordred, thinking of his kitchen 
garden. He begrudgea the heir the reversion of those neat 
walks by the box-bordered beds, where a narrow line of hardy 
flowers, stocks, sweet-william, mignonette, or nasturtium screened 
the brocoli and onions that grew within the boundary. The 
dear old garden, with its red earthenware seakale pots peeping 
out of the greenery, and that delicious herby odour which per- 
vades country kitcnen gardens. 

" Ah," said Sir Aubrey, with a sigh, ** I shall never marry 
unless it be for love." 

Mr. Perriam smiled approvingly across the wide shining 
table ; but his soul was full of wonder. All human love, except 
his mild affection for Aubrey, had withered in his heart thirty 
years ago. Indeed, there had never been warmth enough in 
that placid temperament to kindle the flame of love. Women 
he looked upon as a race apart, useful doubtless after their 
lower kind, but to be kept at the furthest possible distance by 
the Sage. Marriage, Mr. Perriam regarded as a stem necessity 
for elder sons. The younger scions of a great race, more happy, 
could slip through life untried in the matrimonial furnace. 
That any one should cumber himself with a wife, save when 
compelled to that burden by the exigencies of a fine estate, 
seemed to Mr. Perriam almost incredible. A wife who would 
doubtless take odd volumes of his books from their shelves, to 
mislay them, or meddle with his papers ! He thanked Provi- 
dence for having made him the cadet of the house. 

" For love," repeated Aubrey to himself, " for love I How 
Mordred and all the world would laugh at my folly, if I dared 
indulge it. Love at flfty-seven years of age, and for a s^irl 
young enough to be my granddaughter. It is too wild a folly. 
1 et if a true affection could bie possible to a man of my age, it 
ought to be possible for me. I have not frittered away my 
stock of feeling upon passing fancies. My life has been free 
from the follies that waste the hearts of some men. Late as the 
day comes, T ought to be able to love truly, and to win a true 
heart, if I have but courage to seek for one. Shall I seek it 
where this new fancy draws meP Shall I trust the augury 
of eyes and lips that speak but of innocence and truth P" 

The butler came to light the candles in the tall silver branches, 
of pseudo-classic design. 

"Tell Morgan to saddle Splinter," said Sir Aubrey; "Fm 
going for a ride." 

**So late, Aubrey P" exclaimed Mordred, who Kked a quiet 
evening with his brother. It was nice to be able to prose Moui 



*' Love^ Thou art Leading Me from Wintry Cold,** 116 

bis last acqnisitioii to some tistener of his own rank — and if 
Anbrej did not listen, Mordred was too mncli engrossed by his 
own discourse to note the inattention. 

" I like a ride in thj^ half-light»" answered the baronet. ** I 
was ont last night till ten." 

** Yes/* said Mordred, with a sigh. " I shall be glad when the 
winter comes, and we retnm to our old ways — a big fire burning 
in the saloon, and you and I on opposite sides of the hearth ou 
nice long evenings. 

** Bather dull," drawled Sir Aubrey, with a yawn. 

" Dull, when we have each other's company?" 

" Yes, that's all very well. But don't you think that for two 
old fellows like us, a fair voung face would brighten the pic- 
ture — an innocent, joyous-hearted girl, who would be a wife to 
me, and yet seem a daughter to boui of us — a clear young voice 
that womd fill this old house with music. Our lives are placid 
enough as it is : but don't you think such a change as I speak 
of might make them happy P Eh, Mordred P" 

" Changes which disturb tranquillity in the hope of realizing 
happiness are apt to end in disappointment^" replied Mr. Fer- 
riam, with the sententiousness of a Solon. 

It was not a pleasant speech, and Sir Aubrey felt angry with 
his brother— a rare sensation on his part, for he had a protecting 
kindness for this younger brother, whose eccentricities touched 
the border line of weakness. 

** Splinter is at the door. Sir Aubrey," said the butler, and 
without another word to Mordred, Sir Aubrey departed. 

** Ah," moaned his brother, when he had watched horse and 
rider vanish in the shades of evening, " this comes of letting a 
woman mix herself np with his thoughts. He's changed to me 

already." v 

• « «• « « 

Sir Aubrey took the shortest way to Hedingham. It was a 
foolish flwcy,' no doubt, which impelled him to teke this evening 
ride — but the scent of the hedgerows was sweet, the air balmy, 
a faint breath of the distent sea blended with the cool odours 
of newly shorn fields. There was, in short, no reason why a 
country gentleman should not enjoy the shadowy landscape, 
msteaa of dozing in his favourite arm-chair, by his barren 
hearth. 

But Sir Aubrey hardly looked at the landscape. Histhoughte 
were swifter than Splinter, and flew on ahead of him, and lighted 
upon Sylvia Oarew. He could think of no excuse for an evening 
visit to the school-house. All day long he had resisted the im- 
pulse that uraed him to go there. And now in the evening, 
after that usetess battle with indinatioD, he was weak enough to 
iodDlge his fancy. j 



116 Taien tU the Flood. 

What excnse should he make for intruding upon the school* 
master's privacy P He, that all-powerful, the lord of the soil, 
was positively obliged to ask nimself that question. Miss 
Carew was not a picture hanging on a wall in a public gallery— 
a fair face which strangers might gaze upon at their pleasura 
Lofby as was the height which raised him above these people, 
there were certain conventionalities to be observed, even bv him. 

He left his horse at the inn, and walked on towards the 
Bchool-house. A light was burning in the parlour, and the door 
was shut. He had hoped to find Mr. Carew smoking his pipe 
in the open doorway, as he had found him yesterday. 

It seemed a very serious thing to knock at the door — almost 
enough to commit him to some serious step in the future. 

He looked about him doubtfully. Early as it was, no creature 
was visible. Dim lights twinkled here and there in cottage 
windows. The children's voices were silent. The Hedingham 
day was over. Sir Aubrey began to feel that it was very late 
tnaeed. 

He took out his watch. There was just enough light for him 
to see the figures on its white face. A quarter to nine. Yes, 
decidedly too late for him to intrude upon the schoolmaster, 
without any definite object. Well, he had gratified his fancy by 
this evening ride. There was nothing better for him to do uian 
to go back again. 

Stay, what was that ? ^ A glimpse of something white yonder 
amone the dark trees in the cnurchyard — something which 
moved. A woman's dress — a girlish figure, tall and slim- 
robed in white. Twice had he seen Sylvia in a white gown. 
Was it she P 

He went round to the churchyard gate, and entered that 
domain of shadow, where the deep gloom of the foliage seemed 
to typify the deep sleep of those wno lajr beneath its shade. He 
walked slowly, looking about him, as if contemplative of the 
tombs, and in a few mmutes found the object of his quest. 

It was Sylvia and no other. She had seated herself on a low 
tombstone when he found her, in a thoughtful attitude, her 
folded arms resting on a headstons that leaned lopsided against 
the tomb where she sat, her drooping head leaning on her arms. 

" How perfect a statue of meditation!" thought Sir Aubrey. 
*• Yet what can she have to think so deeply about P '* 

His approaching footsteps startled the tninker, Sylvia lifted 
her head and looked up at him, just able to recognise him in 
that shadowy plac6. 

"GkxKi evemng. Miss Carew. I fear I disturbed pleasant 
meditations." 

"No, Sir Aubrey, my thoughts were sad. I am thankfVil to 
have them dispellea*" 



'*. Love, Thou art Leading Me from Wintry Cold,'* 117 

••What can one so yonng and fair have to do with sadness P *" 

The girl was not prepared to answer that qaestion plainly. 

** I suppose there is some care in every life. Mine had to do 
with the troubles of others." 

"I thought as much. Youth and innocence can have few 
cares of its own. And pray remember, Miss Oarew, if ever you 
llave need of a friend you may command my services. As Lord 
of the Manor I naturally tane a warm interest in all that con- 
cerns Hedingham,** he added, lest his offer of friendship should 
seem particular. 

This qualification made the whole speech sound conventional. 

**I wish he would give me some money to send to Mrs. 
Carford," thought Sylvia, for the shadow of last night's visitor 
had haunted her all the day ; " but I could not stoop so low as 
to beg of him. And of course he means nothing but a mere 
hollow civility." 

" Your father is at home, I suppose P " inquired the baronet. 

" Yes, Sir Aubrey." 

** Then I think I should like to look in upon him and say a 
word or two about this new school-house, if you are quite sure 
he is disengaged." 

** I am quite sure. He does nothing but read the paper of an 
evening. He will be proud to receive your visit." 



CHAPTER XX. 

**PAIB AS THE PIRST THAT FELL OP WOMANKIND." 

Though the baronet had proposed this visit to Mr. Carew, he 
was in no haste to leave that place of shadows, the old church- 
yard. This was the first time that he and Sylvia had ever met 
alone, and it seemed too good an opportunity to be lost. He 
wanted to know something about the antecedents of the girl wh« 
had stolen his heart before he was aware. Her father would be 
close and guarded, no doubt, if there was anything to conceal ; 
but these lovely lips must be candour itself. 

" A fine old church," said Sir Aubrey, as if his thoughts had 
taken an arohsaological bent. " You have lived in Hedin^ham 
a long time, I suppose, Miss GarewP" he went on, dismissing 
the church in a breath. 

** Ever since I can remember — all my life.* 

•' You were bom here, then, I c^nclndo,** 

«No." 



k 



118 Taken at the Mood. 

Happily for Sylvia the dusk hid that deep blash of sliamA 
which dyed her cLeek. She did not even know the name of 
her birthplace, so dumb had her father been about the pasL 
What should she do if Sir Aubrey asked her home questions P 

'* Your father ha^s no provincial accent, I observed, continued 
Sir Aubrey, trying to put his inquiries in a purely oonversa* 
tional form. ** He is a Londoner, I conclude." 

" He came here from London." 

** Yet Oarew is a west country name." 

" Is it P " asked Sylvia helplessly ; and then, thinking that 
some degree of candour might help her better than persistent 
reserve, she said, '* My father began life in much better circum- 
stances, I believe, and he does not like talking about the past. 
I only know that we have lived here ever since I can remember, 
and always the same kind of life. It is very monotonous." 

To Sir Aubrey this complaint seemed somewhat puerile. He 
had lived the same life lor the last thirty years, of choice; 
vibrating, like a pendulum, between Pemam Place and the 
Faubourg St. Honor^, and living in Paris almost as quietly as 
he lived at Perriam. 

** My fair child," he said in his grand way, " youth is full of 
restless fancies. When you are a row years older yon will know 
that there is no life so happy as that which glides on smoothly 
amidst familiar scenes." 

Sylvia sighed, but did not presume to argue the point with 
Sir Aubrey. She only thought that had she the power such 
wealth as his can give she would not waste life in monotony. 
That youngs aspiring spirit hungered for variety. Sylvia Carew 
possessed, m an eminent degree, that quality which is at once 
perilous to the peace of the heart and conducive to the growth 
of the mind. She was ambitious; and her ambition, fostered in 
solitude, and fed on dreams, was at the root of this eager desire 
for change. 

'* You are at least happy in the privilege of inhabiting so 
beautiful a spot as Hedingham," said the baronet. 

"Is it resdly beautifulr Yon have seen the Danube — ^the 
Black Forest — the Hartz— ^the Tyrol — the Alps — Bome— 
Yenioe ; and yet yon think Hedingham beantifnlP^ 

She ran over the names of river, forest, mountains, and city 
breathlessly. They were on the tip of her tongue, so ardently 
had she longed to see the scenes they represented. 

"Yes," drawled Sir Aubrey, witn that soft languor which 
was not without its^ charm, " I have done the grand tour. Very 
fatiguing business in my day. A succession of wretched inns, 
musty post-chaises, and dust and bad roads ; and — ahem — ^in- 
■ects — which politeness forbids me to particularize. In my time 
h was esteemed essential for a gentleman to do the grand tovr. 



" Fair at (he First that Fell of Womankind.'' 119 

Nowadays it is the common people who travel. There is a rail- 
road up the Eighi, and Mont Blanc is the Primrose Bill of the 
modern counter-jumper." 

Sylvia sighed. She began to feel that- she lived too late. 
The world had become vulgarized, and the glory of this earth 
had in a measure departed. 

" Will you come to see papa, now, Sir Aubrey P '* she asked, 
rising from her seat on the tomb. 

"Whenever you will be kind enough to show me the way." 

Sir Aubrey lelt that he had obtained very little information. 
It was something to hear that the father of the woman he 
admired had seen better days ; yet, as the Vicar had told him 
the same thing, he was no wiser for his talk with Sylvia. She 
had the air of a lady, he thought, though not that society 
manner which he should have desired for the future Lady Per- 
riam. There was a suddenness, a freedom in her speech, like a 
creature only half tamed. The beauties whom Sir Aubrey had 
hitherto admired had been distinguished by a ^aceful lassitude, 
an elegant weariness. This girl looked as if her veins held 
quicksuver. But then she was lovelier than the fairest of those 
more courtly beauties ; and there was a novel charm in that 
energy — which was never lond-voiced or masculine — that pretty 
petulance which had so bewitching an air of candour. Those 
uazel eyes, which she turned to him now in the summer dusk — 
the fair paleness of that divine complexion ! Where, out of an 
Italian mcture, could he find such beauty P 

He followed her along the little path, through the gate into 
the garden, where the lavender bushes looked gray under the 
stars. 

" Papa,*' said Sylvia, going into the parlour, " Sir Aubrey 
Perriam has come to talk to you about the school." 

Mr. Carew put aside his pipe and rose hastily to greet the 
visitor. A very different guest from that wretched supplicant 
of last night. The schoolmaster was more moved by this unex- 

Eected honour than a man of his temperament should have 
een, but he contrived to conceal his emotioa, and received Sir 
Aubrey as calmly as if he had been accustomed to the " drow 
ping in" of baronets. 

Yet in his heart there was a swelling sense of triumph. 
" What can he come for, except to see her P " he asked himself; 
** aod a man of his age once nit must be hit deeply. I should 
draw no aumiry from a young man's philandering. But thit 
means something serious. 

The baronet be^n to talk about the school, and succeeded 
pretty well in giving a parochial tone to his visit. Would a 
new school-house prove a positive advantage to the village of 
Qedingham, or was it only a hobby of w Yicar'sP Anii 



120 TaJeen at (he Flood. 

was the present site the best possible gronnd for snch % 
boildinj? ; and was the scheme popular among the Hedingham 
people r Before committing himself to an j promise of assist- 
ance Sir Aubrey desired to be assured of these facts. 

All these questions sounded strictly proprietorial questions, 
which a Lord of the Manor would naturally put to his lieges. 
But James Carew saw through the flimsy pretext, and marked 
the eyes which wandered involuntarily to the spot where Sylvia 
sat with her back to the OTXjn lattice, the night wind faintly 
stirring her hair. 

" You are fond of books, Miss Carew, I see," said Sir Aubrey, 
glancing at the recess on one side of the fireplace, where hung 
three small painted shelves, adorned with blue ribbons. Those 
scraps of blue told the baronet to whom the books belonged. 

" Yes,*' said the father, with a touch of pride, " she is more 
studious than most girls of her age, and nas taught herself 
French and German — and, I believe, a little Latin, with veiy 
small help from me." 

Many a time and ofb had he grumbled at those studious pro- 

Eensities, complaining, with scant justice, that Sylvia neglected 
is comforts in order to pore over her books. But he felt to-night 
that her accomplishments were something to boast of. 

Sir Aubrey went over to the recess, and looked at the booka 
" The Sorrows of Werter," in the original, " Eugenie Grandet,** 
** Faust," also in the original, Lamartine's " Girondists," Victor 
Hugo's " Odes et Ballades," Bulwer's " Zanoni," and a dozen 
others of the same order. Nothing that was not classic. *' 

Sir Aubrey took down one of the volumes haphazard. It 
was Werter. He opened the book, and on the flyleaf saw some- 
thing that startled him almost as if his hand had lighted on an 
adder. 

Bylvia, 

From Edmund, 

In memory of Sunday, April 15th. 

This Sunday was the day when Edmund Standen first saw 
Sylvia in the church. 

" From Edmund," said Sir Aubrey, looking at the inscription. 
** Your brother or cousin, I presume P " 

" She has neither brother nor cousin," answered Mr. Carew, 
looking daggers at his daughter. Those very books had hung 
above his head for the last three months, and he had never 
taken the trouble to examine them. 

" Some village admirer, no doubt," said the baronet blandly, 
but pierced to the heart by jealousy's sharp fang. While ne 
had been debating whether he should or should not offend the 
tatelary Deity of the Perriams by a misalliance, this girl was 



«* Fair as the Firit ttai Fell of WbmmMnd.'' 121 

perhaps the plighted wife of some clodhopper — a boor whose 
vulgar desires had never soared above a whitewashed hovel and 
an arbour of scarlet-runners. 

Mr. Carew, seeing rocks to leeward, took rapid counsel with 
himself, and decided that candour was best. After all he could 
best exalt his child by showing that she had already been sought 
by her superior in station. 

It was just possible that the baronet might be of that jealous 
temper which bids a man draw back from the pursuit of the 
dearest object, does he but think he has a rival. But thi<j 
narrow and captious temper is happily rare. Mr. Carew re- 
flected that Mr. Standen's courtship of his dfoughtpr was most 
likely known to the village gossips, and would probably reach 
the ears of Sir Aubrey. 

Yes, there could ha no doubt that the true policy here was 
candour. 

*' Mr. Standen would hardly like to hear himself called a 
village admirer," said the schoolmaster. 

" Standen ! What, the banker's sonP" 

** Yes. He has had the misfortune to fall in love wiih my 
foolish daughter yonder, and she has been so silly as to give 
him some slight encouragement. However, that is all over now. 
The young gentleman called upon me yesterday morning to 
urge his suit, and I gave him a very straightforward answer." 

** You refused him P ** asked the baronet. 

"Unconditionally. You look surprised, Sir Aubrey. You 
think that a banker's son would be a very good match for a 
parish schoolmaster's daughter. And so I grant you he would 
have been, were there no drawback. If he marries my daughter, 
he marries her in direct opposition to his mother. And, though 
I am a poor man, I hold honour before self-interest. I will not 
suffer my child to enter a family which reluses her an affec- 
tionate welcome." 

This sounded noble; especially as Mr. Carew's speech gave no 
hint of Mrs. Standen's power to disinherit her son. 

" I applaud your spirit, sir," said the baronet, stealing a look 
at Sylvia, curious to know how near this subject was to her 
heait. 

That drooping face, bent over the needlework in the girl's 
hands, told him nothing. He saw only the fair young brow, the 
downcast eyelids with their auburn lashes. The attitude was of 
calmest repose. Passion could scarcely stir the heart beneath 
that tranquil bosom. 

Having discussed the Yicar's pet scheme in all its bearin^gs. 
Sir Aubrey had no excuse for lingering. Yet he lingered, talking 
of iihe village and its surroundings, keenly interested in disi^over- 
ing what kind of a man Mr. Carew was. An edu^^^j^ 



122 Taken at the Flooi. 

evidently, to be^ with, and a man who bad at some period of 
his existence been familiar with polite society. The glory of Sir 
Aubrey's presence abashed him not at all. ^ 

The little Datch clock strack ten, and Sir Anbrey rose with a 
gnilty start. 

"Upon my word, I owe yon a hnndred apologies," he said; 
"these summer evenings delude me into a forgetfulness of 
time/' 

•'Pray do not apolo^ze for the lateness of your visit, Sb 
Aubrey. The evening is the only time in which I am my own 
master, and free to receivs a visitor." 

" Then I may drop in again some evening to hear how the plans 
progress?*' asked Sir Aubrey, quite ignoring; the fact that 
nothing serious was likely to be done for the next two years. 

** I shall be honoured by your visit. Sir Aubrey." 

** You are very good," returned the baronet. And then, with 
some hesitation, he went on, " If at any time, while the summer 
evenings last, you would like to bring Miss Oarew to see Per- 
riam — ^unless, indeed, she has seen it already— I should be very 
happy to show you the house and gardens. There is nothing 
new-fangled, none of those frivolous inventions for spending 
money with which people fill their places nowadays, but the 
gardens are large, and the house is well built. It might repay 
file trouble of a visit." 

** We shall be delighted to come. Sir Aubrey. Neither I nor 
my daughter has seen Perriam Place." 

"Why not fix upon a day, then? Could you come to- 
morrow P " 

" We have no engagements," said Mr. Carew, with his some- 
what bitter smile. 

"Let it be to-morrow, then. I shall expect you at eight 
o'clock, and you can give me any new ideas that may have 
occurred to you about the school. Shall I send a carriage for 
yon and Miss Carew P " 

" Yon are too kind. Sir Anbrey. No, thanks ; we would 
rather walk over to Perriam. It is a pleasant walk across the 
fields." 

" So be it, then. My brother and I will show vou the house 
and gardens. Perhaps we had better say half-past seven. 
There might be hardly tight enough after eight," said Sir Aubrey 
gravely. 

This advancement of the hour would oblige him to dine a 
little earlier than usual — a serious consideration for a genUeman 
of fixed habits. 

" Half-past seven, if you prefer that hour, Sir Aubrey," replied 
the schoolmaster. 

"Thaidcg. Good night Good nighty Miss Carew. You 



^^Vait 08 tie First that Fell of Womankind:* 12S 

mnstn't langli at onr old-fashioned ways at Perriam. People 
tell me we are half a centnry behind the times. But the Per* 
riams have been Tories ever since they were Perriams. Good 
night." And thus, with a somewhat lingering pressure of 
Sylvia's little hand, Sir Aubrey departed. 

Mr. Carew escorted him to the garden gate with ceremonious 
politeness. He knew exactly where to draw the line between the 
respect due to the lord of the soil and servility. He stood at 
the ^te and watched the slim upright figure till it vanished in 
the half dark of the summer night. Then he went slowly back 
to the parlour. 

Sylvia had thrown aside her work. She was sitting in a list- 
less attitude, with fixed brooding eyes bent upon the ground, the 
attitude of one absorbed in deepest thought. 

Mr. Carew looked at her curiously as he barred the door. 

*' ' There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the 
flood, leads on to fortune ! '" he said very slowly. And this was 
his sole comment upon Sir Aubrey's visit. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

•*SHB IS WOMAN, THEREPORB TO BB WON." 

The next morning's post brought Sylvia a letter from Edmund 
Standen; a letter written at Southampton the night before 
the mail steamer left that port. It was the first letter her 
lover had ever written to her. At Hedingham it had been 
easy for them to meet, and there had been no need of letters. 
And this first love letter was very sweet to her, though a vague 
flavour of bitterness mingled with that sweetness. So many 
obstacles arose to block the path along which they two had 
sworn to travel hand in hand. Sylvia shed some of her rare 
tears over that letter, and kissed the page which her lover's 
hand had pressed. Indeed it was a letter which any woman 
might have been proud to receive— a letter breathing as pure 
and honest a love as ever man felt for woman ; a brave letter, 
in which the youn^ man spoke confidently, yet not recklessly, 
of l^at batUe of liie which ne was to fight for the maintenance 
of his home. 

" I have begun to prepare myself already, dearest^** he wrote 
" and am endeavouring to suj)ply anything wanting in b^o. ednca* 
tion which has up to this point been literary rather t&an com* 
nerdal. I proviaed myself with some of the best bookft 



124 Taken at the Flood. 

finance and tbe eoonony of banMng, as I came ihrongH LondoBt 
and am going in seriously for study on the voya^ out. I 
hope to have made myself, in theory at least, a good l^inker by 
the time I get back to England, so that I may present myseif 
to the directors at Monkhampton with the double advantage of 
my father's name and my own knowledge." 

This was the only business-like paragraph in the letter. The 
rest was all lover's talk of that rose-coloured future — ^that almost 
celestial felicity with which youth's fond credulity invests an 
earthly lot. But there was not a line which did not go straight 
home to Sylvia's heart. He trusted her so entirely. Not a 
thought of doubt breathed in that letter. It was written to a 
woman whom the writer believed above suspicion. 

" I should be the worst and basest of women if I betrayed 
such affection/' thought Sylvia, with a sigh, as she at last laid 
down that dear letter. ** Y et I see nothing but difficulties in our 
path." 

She had before the eyes of her mind — ^those eyes which see so 
many things as the dreamer sits in her quiet chamber — another 
path which was beset by no perils— a path which seemed to be 
strewed with roses. Only on this path the genius of domestic 
love shed not her starry light. There were the roses of worldly 
prosperity — the honour and reverence of mankind — the splen- 
dour of a great triumph. But Love stood with averted face 
in the background of that picture, and cried, " Here I have no 
place." 

** No," said Sylvia, " I cannot be false to him." 

Unhappily when a woman tells herself she cannot betray, it 
is a sure sign that she has contemplated the possibility of 
treachery. 

Mr. Garew was particularly civil to his daughter all this day. 
There was an^ altered tone which puzzled Syhria. She did not 
know that this novel courtesy was shown to the future Lady 
Pcrriam. 

•* Do you want a new bonnet, or anything, to make you tidy 
this evening P " he asked, during the mid-day calm, while the 
schoolboys had gone home to their dinners. 

'* I want lots of things, papa," the girl answered quickly. 
*' But if you can give me a sovereign that will do." 

"A sovereign!" exclaimed Mr. Uarew, "do you think I am 
made of money P Here, you can have this half-sovereign. It 
will be hard enoush for us to rub on till next quarter, but we 
must manage somenow." 

" Thank you, papa; half a sovereign is better than nothing.** 
Be sure you look your best this evening." 
Why, papaP Do yon suppose two old gentlemen like Sir 
Aubrey and Mr. Perriam wiU notice my lookg P " 






''She is Wimaih Aerefbre to he Wbn/^ 126 

** Sir Aubrey is a gentleman in the prime of life. Don't lei 
me hear jon dJil him old any more." 

When afternoon school had be^n, and Mr. Carew was ag^n 
absorbed by his uncongenial duties, Sylvia opened her desk and 
directed an envelope to Mrs. Carford, care of Mrs. Wood, Bell- 
alley, Fetter-lane. 

8ne wrote onlv one line on a sheet of paper : — 
** I send a little help — all I have to send." No signature — 
no word more. In this sheet of paper she folded the half-sove- 
rei^, and carefully enclosed her little packet in the envelope. 
This done, she went to the village post-o&ce, registered her letter 
and oosted it. ^ 

" I am sending my little bit of pocket-money to my old nurse," 
she said to Mr. Prosser, the chemist, in explanation of this 
unusual proceeding. People who live in a village are expected 
to explain themselves, if they deviate ever so little from the 
beaten track of life. 

Perhaps this one small piece of self-sacrifice was Sylvia's first 
good action. Destiny might also intend it to be her last- 
She gave a little sigh as she dropped the letter in the box, 
thinking of the Mon&ampton drapers, and the sash and neck- 
ribbons she might have bought with those ten shillings— ribbons 
ttha would have given colour and brightness to that plain muslin 
dress which she was to iron this afternoon. Cleanliness was the 
only luxury Miss Carew could afford herself, and for this she 
was dependent upon her own industry. 

Yet, when half-past six o'clock came, and Sylvia was dressed 
for the visit to Perriam, no ribbon seemed wanting to set off that 
beauty whose highest charm was its spiiituality — not the mere 
sensuous beauty of a lovelv soulless image, but the changeful 
loveliness of an intellectual being. That still loftier charm of 
nobility of nature might seem wanting to the keen eye of the 
acute physiognomist, but acute physiognomists are happily rare, 
and those who looked at Sylvia for the most part saw intellect 
and beauty, and took goodness for granted. 

Mr. Carew seemed to his daughter almost a new man, as they 
walked across the fields, sometimes by a broad sweep of purple 
clover, sometimes in the narrow path between tall boundaries of 
wheat ripe for the sickle, sometimes by a epreen lane where 
belated birds chirruped among the darkening leaves of oak and 
«lm. He talked, and with amazing cheerfulness, praised Sir 
Aubrey's elegant appearance and perfect manners, remarked, in 
passing, that there was no position upon this lower world mora 
agreeable than the position of a country gentleman with an un< 
encumbered estate, harped u]X)n the well-known wealth of the 
Perriams, their quiet manner of living, whereby that wealth 
aiiiat have gathered bulk from year to year like a xoIiin^«asy«VA21i^ 



120 Taken at the Flood. 

6jlyia beard and ngHed regretfollj, and thonght of that deaf 
letter locked in her desk at home. 

^ I wish Edmund had never loved me," she thonght, her mind 
dwelling npon the writer of that letter, while the schoolmaster 
talked of Sir Aubrey. " It might have been happier for both o/ 
ne." 

Perriam was built in a vallej, after the manner of our fori 
Csithers, who preferred shelter from bleak winds to the splendoo; 
of an elevated position, and, save for aggressive or defensive 
purposes, seldom planted their habitations upon the heights 
Around Perriam Place spread some of the most fertile meadowi 
in the county — meadows so richly timbered and park-like, that 
one could scarcely tell where the park ended and the home-farm 
began. Indeed the park proper was not large, but borrowed 
dignity from the length of a aouble avenue, in which the tall 
old elms, set far back from the road, left space for an inner line 
of araucarias, or monkey-trees, said to be the finest in England. 
A stately stone archway, with a lodge on either side, formed the 
entrance to this avenue. 

Mr. Carew and his daughter did not approach Perriam by this 
chief entrance. At the edge of the park there was a little old 
church sunk in a dell, enclosed by a crumbling old stone wall, in 
whose interstices harts-tongue ferns throve abundantly, and 
accessible by a narrow lane with a turnstile, through which one 
came straight into the park itself. The raised terrace of the 
Italian g^arden almost touched the wall within whose boundary 
the Perriam s lay buried, in a narrow graveyard which held no- 
thing but Perriams and their immediate vassals. And the level 
of the garden being considerably above the level of the church- 
yard. Sir Aubrey had the advantage of surveying his slumber- 
ing ancestors from an eminence, a spectacle conducive to medi- 
tation, and reflections of a Horatian character upon the brevity 
of life, and the mutability of things in general. The little 
church, an appendage of Perriam, the graveyard exclusively 
devoted to Perriams, impressed Sylvia with a sense of grandeur 
which all the gold of the Eothschilds, taken merel3r as goldf 
could not have inspired. That family distinction which comei 
from long establishment in the land, the deep-rooted family tree 
which has grown and flourished and spread its branches over 
the same spot almost from the beginning of recorded time, is a 
kind of renown which seems peculiarly dazzling to the waifs 
and strays of humanity. Sylvia, who knew nothing of her 
father's history except his dishonour, felt this impression keenly, 
and Sir Aubrey, who in the apple orchard had seemed no more 
than a courteous elderly gentiemaiit acquired on his own domain 
an almost princely character. 

The sdioolmaster and Im dauff^hter crossed a stretch of leyel 



•* She is Wbman^ therefore to he WonJ^ 127 

iwtE, and entered Ine avenxie within a hundred yards of the 
house. Sylvia had never before been so near that stately pile. 
She had only seen it from the distance, grand and gloomy, 
standing aloof from the elms and beeches of the park, the cedars 
and maples of the lawn — on an island of barren gravel and tnrf 
laid out stiffly in the Italian style, with a Fannus and a Dryads 
a Fan and a Syrinx, simpering on their pedestals at the angles 
of the walks. 

The hall door stood open, but for ceremony Mr. Garew rang a 
bell, which made noise enough to have startled the establish* 
ment of the Sleeping Beauty. He had scarcely done so when 
he beheld a gentleman crossing the hall, a gentleman in shoes 
tied with rusty ribbons, and a coat of somewhat antique cut. 

" Good evening. Sir Aubrey," he said. " You see we are very 
punctual." 

Sylvia pulled her father's sleeve. 

"Papa, how can you be so stupid P** she whispered, while 
the gentleman stood smiling inanely, with a look of considerable 
embarrassment. 

The woman's quick eye had noted the difference of dress, of 
style, between the two brothers. The faces bore a marked 
resemblance, a likeness which in the half-light of the hall had 
been strong enough to deceive the schoolmaster. 

** I beg vour pardon," faltered Mordred Perriam ; " you mis- 
take me tor my brother. We are generally considered alikbw 
Pray walk in. Sir Aubrey expects you." 

Sir Aubrey opened the dining-room door at this moment, and 
came out to welcome his visitors. Yes, there was a wide differ- 
ence between the two men, but it was for the most part a differ- 
ence of dress and style. The elder brother was as studious in 
his costume, and as well preserved in his person, as a French 
marquis of the old regime ; while Mordred Perriam's high limp 
shirt-collar, cambric frill, watered black ribbon and double eye- 
class, nankeen waistcoat and chocolate-coloured coat, ill-cut 
hair, and shaggy eyebrows, bespoke the bookworm's indifference 
to the mutations of fashion, or the decay of his good looks. 
Even that chocolate coat was a mark of respect to his brother. 
"Mr. Perriam was never happier than when loosely enveloped in 
a dressing-gown which a^e had rendered dear to him. 

** How do you do P " cned Sir Aubrey. " So good of you to 
come. My brother, Mr. Perriam, Miss Garew — Mr. Garew, Mr. 
Perriam. Shall we take tea before we walk round the gardens P 
Perhaps we had better. Miss Garew must want a little refresh- 
ment after her walk, and ladies are generally fond of tea. There 
will be light enough for the gardens afterwards. I have no 
floricnltum specimens to show you ; I leave the cultivation of 
tnriotus plants to foolish old ladies, who i««iit \o vs^si^^ 'Qk^i^ ^ 



128 Taken ai the Mood. 

money. Perriam could be no more than Perriam if I sqaaiiflered 
a fortane on orchids." 

Mr. Carew murmured his acquiescence with a proposition 
which seemed incontrovertible! and Sir Aubrey led tne way to 
the saloon, where tea had been prepared for the visitors on an 
oval table in the semicircular bay, or alcove, at the end of the 
room. The china was Indian, and the silver tray and tea-kettle 
were specimens of that famous period which still takes highest 
rank among the connoisseurs of the silversmith's art. A plate 
of delicate bread-and-butter, some dry biscuits in a silver basket, 
and a dish %£ early plums from the southern wall composed the 
somewhat unsubstantial meal; but the schoolmaster had not 
come to Perriam to eat or to drink, and sipped his tea out of the 
crimson and gold dragon china with supreme contentment. The 
baronet had placed Sylvia before the tray, with a ceremonious 
request that sne woula pour out the tea. 

" I do it myself when my brother and I are alone," he said, 
"but it '.^eems much more natural as well as much more agree- 
able to :}ve a lady in that place." 

^ Bylvidi smiled. She felt an almost childish pleasure in hand* 
ling those splendid teacups, that antique teapot, and the curious 
old tea-kettle, mounted high upon four slim legs. Never before 
to-night had she poured tea out of a silver teapot, never before 
to-night touched such costly china. And then these things had 
a peculiar charm of their own, which lifted them above the com- 
monplace splendours of the Monkhampton shop windows. They 
possessed tne double charm of age and rarity. 

They lingered a little over that simple banquet, while the dusk 
deepened yonder on the cedar-shadowed ier^Ti, and the butler, 
always slow to bring lamps and candles, left them to enjoy the 
ffloamin^. Sir Aubrey was in no hurrjr to break the spell that 
bound him. He was sitting by Sylvia, watching her white 
hands as they hovered about the tea-things with snch light, gra- 
cious movemcrnts. Why should he not have her always to pour 
out his tea, if he chose P There was no one to question his will. 
He was supreme master of his life and actions. Only destiny 
could interpose to prevent his being happy after his own fashion. 

Musing thus. Sir Aubrey fell into a deep silence, which no 
other member of that small assembly ventured to break. They 
were there as his vassals, even Mordred, and if the prince were 
silent who among them should presume to speak P Nor was 
that stilhiess uncongenial to the summer dusk, or the splendid 
gloom of that spacious apartment. 

Sylvia's keen eyes wandered here and there in the gloom. 
Why, the room w&b as large as Hedingham Church ! That lofty 
ceilmg, that florid oomice, impressed ner with an unspeakable 
•enso of grandeur* She thought of the school-house parlour. 



**She is Woman, therefore to he Won^ 129 

with its low ceiling, sustained by a clams j whitewashed beam, 
in which a mstj iron hook or two, which no mortal hand seemed 
strong enough to extract, marked where ruder generations had 
hung their l^con to dry in the reek of the household hearth. 
What a contrast between those two rooms ! The carpet hern 
was like the turf on the Vicarage lawn, deep and sofb, and silent 
beneath the heaviest footfalL The vast room, void of pictures^ 
mirrors, and frippery of all kinds, had an almost awful look in 
the dusk. An Egyptian temple could have hardly been more 
solemn. 

" Come,** said Sir Aubrey, suddenly rousing himself from 
that long reverie, ''we shall have very little light for the 
gardens; but you must come again, and see them better. Yes,** 
with a desperate plunge, "you must come and dine with us 
some day next week."^ 

Sir Aubrey heard his brother's startled movement in the dusk 
yonder. It was the slightest possible movement ; an involun- 
tary action, like the start which some neople give at a vivid 
flash of lightning ; but Sir Aubrey unaerstood it. He knew 
that there was a wide difference lietween asking this school* 
master and his daughter to tea in a purely patronizing way, as 
befitted the lord of the manor, and inviting them to dm er as if 
they were his equab. 

" What would the county say P " thought Mordred, in mute 
horror. He saw very little of the county himself, and in the 
serene retirement of his kitchen garden cared very little what 
the county thought of him. But he had a fixed idea that his 
brother was bound to defer to the opinion of the county, and if 
he ever married at all, to marry in accordance with the expecta- 
tions of the county. Sir Aubrey had been engaged to a duke's 
daughter; and the county would be slow to forgive him the 
disgrace of a mean alliance. 

But Sir Aubrey had cast the die, and began to feel reckless. 
** After all, a man should live for himself,'' he thought. " Shall 
t have a vine^r-faced spinster to pour out my tea for the sake 
of the quartenn^s on her father's snieldP At my age a n^ya. is 
bound to make tne most of his life." 

They went out into the grounds, this being part of the pro- 
gramme, and a thing to be done. Here, in the cool dusk. Sir 
Aubrey led his visitors along the stiff walks of the Italian 
garden, to that wide terrace from which, looking downward, 
they saw Ferriam Church sheltered in its green dell, and the 
tombs of the Perriam dan showing grayish-white against the 
surrounding foliage, — such a quiet, half-hidden litue church 
and graveyard. Here verily death must be a peaceful slumber ; 
no jar of city traffic to stir the sleeper, no roar of steam-engine 
to snake the mouldering dnst I 



180 TaJten mt the Flood. 

Mr. Oarew qnoted Horace involuntarily. Mf . Perriam, do- 
lighted at the opportunity, beean a long story of an Amsterdam 
Horace of the loth century, which he had acquired — a wondroof 
bargain, only one volume being wanting, from a bookseller in 
GlauBgow. Full of his story, Mr. Perriam hooked his arm through 
the schoolmaster's, and trotted him up and down the terrace, at 
his kitchen-garden pace, and fhiis, placidly unconsdouB of the 
mischief he might be doing, lef6 Sir Aubrey and Sylvia to their 
fate. 

The stars were out in the clear summer heaven, and in that 
■ilyer light the girl's face seemed divinely beantiful, for all lovdj 
things teke new loveliness from the light of moon and slArs. fi 
was the face of one of Eaphaers young Madonnas, seroielj 

Sensive, with lips half parted in a thoughtful smile, as if those 
eeply dark eyes looked beyond the landscape they seemed to 
i^st on, to some fairer spirit land. Sir Aubrey contemplated his 
companion in silent admiration as she stood leaning a little 
against the sculptured vase, at an angle of the balustrade. 
Could anything so lovely be otherwise than good P he asked 
himself, with little doubt as to the answer. It seemed to him 
that this outward perfection implied a corresponding beanty in 
the spirituA nature. 

And indeed it is possible that to. the soul that belonged to 
this perfect form there had once )Ken all the elements of good- 
ness, needing only training for their development. Some 
natures are self-sustaining, like yonder cedar; others are bnt 
plants of a parasite growth, which need to be directed by the 
judicious hand of the gardener. 



OHAPTBB XXn. 

'^nr SOME, AMBITION IS THB CHIBF GOKCERN." 

Not very long did Sir Aubrey keep silenoe as he and Sylvia 
stood side by side beneath those tranquil stars. 

There was one poin^ upon which he was very anxious for 
enlightenment. 

** Your father — ^whi*- Jie honoured me with his confidence last 
night — ajjpeared to me to take a very correct view of Mr. Stan- 
den's position with regard to yourself. Miss Oarew," he said, 
coming to the point with the abraightforwardness of ^miud ac- 
customed to dictate rather than to obey. " You are too charm- 
ing a young lady to enter any family which refuses you respect 



** In iovie^ Ambition is the Cl^f Concern** 131 

And affection. Bnt fathers are apt to cbnteniplate these st l> 
jects from a common-sense point of view, forgetting how far. a 
daughter's feelinj^ may be involved in the matter. I — I hoi)e 
H is not 80 in this case. I hope you go with your father in his 
rejection of Mr. Standen." . . 

Sylvia's heart beat very fast. Why should Sir Aubrey ask 
her such a question, unless he meant to ask a still more par- 
ticular question by-and-byP What could it matter to mm 
whether she cared or did not care for Mr. Standen P And how 
should she answer him P To tell him the simple troth — to tell 
him that Edmund Standen waa very dear to her, and that she 
had sworn to be feithful and constant in her love for him, come 
weal, come woe — this was clearly her duty, her duty at once to 
Edmund and the sacred cause of truth. But to do this would 
be to put an end to Sir Aubrey's very evident infatuation- -tb 
destroy that splendid possibiHty which shone before her dazzM 
eyes to-night. And Sylvia had not acquired her ideas of life 
from a teacher who attached much importance to abstract truth. 
The lessons her father had instilled were hard lessons, taught in 
bitterness of spirit. He had taught her that to be happy meant 
to succeed in life — ^that poverty and contentment were incom* 

Satible — that to miss the one brilliant possibility which every 
fe offers is to embrace ruin. " Every pretty woman has her 
chance," he had Paid to her, " if she knows how to wait for it.** 
Now Sylvia's cKuice seemed to have com*>, after very little 
waiting. Fortune, the winged goddess, stood by her side. She 
had but to stretch forth her hand to detain her — yet nothing 
was easier than to scare the bright stranger away. She delibe- 
rated before answering Sir Aubrey's question, and then with 
bold equivocation made a reply which committed her to nothing. 

" I cannot help approving of my father's refusal. I have no 
wish to be looked down upon by Mrs. Standen." 

" Looked down upon ! I should think not ! " cried the baro- 
net indignantly. " Looked down upon by a provincial banker's 
widow. You, who are fit to be a duchess. But never mind 
Mrs. Standen," he went on, with some slight hesitation ; *' her 
insolence is not worth thinking about. The question I would 
venture to ask is — whether Mr. Standen; the young gentleman 
who gave you that book, has won your affecti6n P '* 

This question was too direct to admit * of an equivocating 
answer. Sylvia must either tell the tnith, or wrong her lover 
by deliberate falsehood. Happily neither man nor woman be- 
comes altogether base in a moment. She could not pronounce 
that direct untruth which poUoy counselled.- She would not 
forswear herself utterly. Bat in her reply she was only half 
true. 

••Yes," she said softly, ''Edmund and 1 ^ c»x^ lost «i^ 



•-* 



182 Taken at the Mood. 

other, a little. Only thero are so many obstacles in the way of 
oar marriage that—- — " 

** That yon have both come to the conclnsion that it is wisest 
to abandon all thought of it," cried Sir Anbrey eagerly. '* I 
understand." 

" No," said Sylvia, ** Edmund is still anxious that I should 
marry him ; but I " 

** You see the folly of such a marriage." 

" Yes — and I am too proud to accept Mrs* Standen's suffer^ 
ance." 

"Then I may venture to conclude that your heart is not 
deeplv engaged r " asked Sir Aubrey earnestly. 

^ Sylvia sighed. If she had ever had a heart, it was surely 
given to Edmund Standen. She remembered that thrilling 
voice, with its low tender tones ; those dark gray eyes, with 
their fond protecting look ; the sense of peace and security that 
her lover's presence nad ever brought her ; the deep trust which 
his trustfumess inspired. Hard to resign such gifts as these, 
which did at times, even to her selfish soul, seem sufficient to 
make life sweet. 

She sighed, and those thoughtful eyes surveyed the Italian 
garden, tne park that surrounded it, the little old church in the 
aell, the expanse of meadow land. She knew that far bejrond 
the limit of her gaze the land belonged to Sir Aubrey Perriam. 
She recaHed that succinct lecture upon the extent of his wealth 
which her father had given her tnat evening. Could mortal 
love or truth — at best an uncertain quantity — weigh against 
these positive possessions P Could she for a moment hesitate, 
if Fortune offered her in one hand the heart of the man she 
loved, and in the other Perriam Place ? 

** And perhaps ten years hence, when my good looks are on 
the wane, and my temper is soured by the struggles of poverty, 
I should discover that Edmund had grown tired of me," sue 
thought, looking at the question in its varied aspects. 

•* fiut I love him, but I love him," urged her heart. " I love 
him, and I cannot surrender his love." 

The stars shone down on the Italian garden. Faunus and 
the Dryad glimmered whitely athwart orange trees that had 
scented the air when Henry St. John paced those straight walks 
with his friend Sir Godfrey Perriam. It was a fair scene which 
Sylvia's enraptured eyes surveyed. Yet it was but a mess of 
pottage after all, against which her evil genius tempted her to 
barter that fairer heritage — a woman's honour. 

•• Tell me the truth," pleaded Sir Aubrey. " Had this Mr. 
Standen won your heart P 

She could not answer no, but here coquetry and equivocation 
came to her aid. 



" In some^ Ambition is the Chief Concern.** 131, 

•• We had only known each other three months when he went 
awAY," she said^ ** and had not met very often in that time." 

•* Then yonr heart is not eogaeed P" 

** Not very deeply. In fact, I have hardly considered whether 
I have a heart. Bnt I think I had better remind papa how late 
it is, Sir Aubrey. Mr. Perriam's interesting conversation may 
make him forget that we have an hour's walk home." 

** You need not walk home. I have ordered the carriage to 
be ready for you at ten. Give me one more half-hour. Miss 
Carew. There is another question that I should like to ask you 
•^yes, even to-night. It may seem strange and sudden, but 
when a man has once made up his mind there is no reason why 
lie should hesitate." 

He stopped, feeling that he had rushed almost blindfold to 
the brink of -a frightful precipice, a gulf from which, the plunge 
once made, there could be no retreat. He stopped, and drew 
breath, as it were, upon the very verge of that dire abyss. But 
for the runner who has rushed headlong to the edge, there is no 
possibility of recoil. Sir Aubrey had but time to perceive his 
desperate position, ere he was over the brink. 

" Is it possible," he said, " that this ^rlish heart, unawakened 
by a youthful lover, could be touched by the deeper devotion of 
a man long past youth. Sylvia, there are impulses against 
which it is vain to contend — spells that all the wisdom of a 
Ulysses is weak to break from. My dearest girl, I think that £ 
must have fallen in love with you that afternoon in the orchard; 
for your face has haunted me from that hour to this ; and I 
know that life henceforward must seem barren to me if yoc 
refuse to brighten it" 

S^rlvia gave one wide look that took in all the splendour of 
Perriam. She had turned her back to the church m the dell, 
and the mansion stood before h^r a little way off, in all its 
solemn grandeur — the smooth lawn shining like the still bosom 
of a lake between the Italian garden and the broad stone perron. 
This was offered to her— this, the finest house she had ever 
seen, by tlie grandest gentleman she had ever heard of. There 
was no one in Hedingham whose mind was wide enough to con- 
ceive greatness beyond the greatness of Sir Aubri^ Perriam. 

There was a choking twitch in her throat. Her eyes filled 
with tears. The tears of pride and triumph. Only in a dream 
had she ever before felt this swelling sense of victory. She 
turned to Sir Aubrey and tned to speak, but no words would 
come. That overpowering sense of gratified ambition stifled 
her. In that moment Edmund Standen was absolutely for- 
gotten. 

Sir Aubrey perceived her agitation, and was deeply touched 
by it. Had sne been Tinmoved« he would ka^^ wsc^^ '^D>s». 



k 



134 Taken at the Mood. 

unworthj of his love. This emotion bespoke a chord which 
trembled iH unison with his own deep feeling. He was not 
without the power to tonch that fresh young heart. 

" Sylvia, will yon be my wifeP" he asked briefly, not being 
practised in the arts of a lover. 

" It would be too great an honour for me, Sir Aubrey," she 
aiiswered, h^ voice trembling a little. She was thinking oi 
those Hedingham fine ladies, who had looked her down with 
their cold repellent stare, who had condemned her unheard. 
Could Fortune really mean to raise her to a pinnacle from which 
she could crush them with her scorn P The mere fact of her 
elevation would be a supreme revenge. She thought of the 
homage Hedingham would offer to Lady Perriam, and Edmund 
Standen remained absolutely forgotten. 

" What would the world say. Sir Aubrey P" she asked. 

" What would the world say, except that I was happy in win- 
ning so peerless a wife P I have been, perhaps, too much the 
slave of social rank, but you have broken my bonds. Beauty 
such as yours wotdd make any man a Radical. The world! 
What i^eed I care for the world if I am happy P A man's home 
is his world. That uneasv sense of what the world outside his 
home maj[ be sajin^ of nim^ is the weakest of all the vanities 
that ever civilization inspired in the hnman mind. Let my home 
be isolated as the wigwam of the savage, so long as it be happy. 
Sylvia, is there any ha^ that I can win your regard P" 

*' How can I do otherwise than admire you, when you are so 
generous and noble P" she asked softly. A very little while ago 
she had called Edmund Standen noble and generous because 
he was willing to surrender a fortune for her sake. But Sir 
Aubrev, who was able to make her mistress of Perriam Place, 
seemed still more generous and noble. 

•* Will you be my wife, Sylvia P" pleaded Sir Aubrey, with 
deepening earnestness. " I am willing to trust to time to give 
me your love. I do not think one so gentle and innocent can 
long withhold her heart from a husband who must adore her. 
If I can tmst the future, dearest to bring us both happiness, 
will you not trust it tooP " 

" X 88," she answered, not withdrawing the hand he clasped, 
but with her gaze still iixed on yonder mansion, upon whose 
smooth facade the shadows of tne cedar branches looked like 
mineral plumes. 

It was Perriam Place she accepted rather than Sir Auljey. 

'* Better for poor Edmund than that he should make himself 
a pauper for my sake," she thought, as her loye«^8 image cast a 
sadden gloom athwart this brilliant prospecji. AW for the 
moment shA really believed that in accepting 8ir AalHtey'ft offer 
j^ was acting generously to Edmund Standen. 



/ 



•> 



In BDTne, Ambition t% tJie Cluef Concern^ 136 



And that solemn promise by the tomb of tbe Be BossineySp 
that promise so firmly believed in by her absent lover ? Lightet 
than thistle-down weighed that sacred vow in the balance that 
held the wealth of Perriam, and all the pride and power that 
went along with it. 

Sir Anbrey held that little hand in his, wondering vaguely 
at himself, and the change in his scheme of life. He had not 
intended to take this desperate plunge. His plan had been to 
make himself thoroughly acquainted with Sylvia and her father 
before committing himself m any manner. And. lo. it had 
'p«Hvled but the magic of night and starshine to betray him into 
this foolish precipi&tion. He felt that he had been rash almost 
to madness : he felt that he was exquisitely happy. 

" Sylvia," he said gently, " if you can but give me one tithe 
of the love I feel for you, we ought to be the happiest couple in 
tl.o wtjst of England. 

Sylvia thou^t that as Lady Ferriam it would be impossible 
to be otherwise than happy. 

Mr. Garew and Mr. Perriam had perambulated every walk in 
the Italian garden by this time, the bookworm still prosing 
about that wonderful Dutch Horace — a book which was really 
the veriest dirt in the eyes of accomplished bibliopoles, but 
which poor Mordred. deemed a treasure above price. , The school- 
master listened patiently to the particulars of this bargain — 
how Mr. Perriam's eye had been caught by an advertisement in 
The BooUseller, how he had written to the second-hand dealer, 
and how the dealer had written to him — all related at much 
length, and with numerous discursive additions. Very patient 
was Mr. Carew, for he had an eye upon those two figures by the 
■tone vase; and he felt that his time was in no manner wasted. 

But when the stable clock chimed the half-hour after nine it 
seemed incumbent upon him to make some movement. So he 
reminded Mr. Perriam how late it was, and the two gentlemen 
bent their steps towards yonder group. 

** My dear Sylvia, have you any idea of the hour ? " asked 
Mr. Garew. " This beautiful garden, and Sir Aubrey's kindness, 
have beguiled you into forgetfulness. We have a longish waUc 
before us.** 

** The carriage is ordered for ten,** said Sir Aubr^. " I could 
not think of Miss Garew walking home. Gome in and take 
some refreshment, Garew.** 

He gave Sylvia his arm, and they went ba^k to the house, 
which now shone upon them with a cheerfnl hght in its lower 
windows; not the vivid brightness of gas, but the mellow radi- 
ance of lamps and wax candles. 

The saloon, which Sylvia had only seen dimly in the dusk» 
was now illuminated by a pair of moderator lamps, innovatict.t 



186 Taken at the Flood. 

which Sir Anvrey had submitted to nnder protest, and hall a 
dozen yellow wax candles in a pair of silver candelabra of the 
Corinthian colamn design. By this soft light the room look^ 
its best; no colour predominating where every hue was mellowed 
by time, pale grays and sombre crimsons melting into each 
other, doors of darkest Spanish mahogany — such a room as a 

Eainter loves. Sylvia felt somehow that Sir Aubrey's saloon, 
Lcking all the luxurious inventions of modem upholstery, was 
yet infinitely more splendid than Mrs. Toynbee's brand-new 
drawing-room, upon whose decoration, as the lady exultantly 
informed her friends, no expense had been spared. There must 
have been a rood of looking-glass in Mrs. Toynbee's room. Yast 
panels of glass from floor to ceiling, reflecting all the distracting 
twists and convolutions of the gilded chairs and tables, the 
brassy modem buhl, the French china, the Bohemian glass, the 
crimson satin, the mother-of-pearl photograph albums, a room 
which gave visitors a headacne; while m the Perriam Place 
saloon the eye reposed as in the shade of summer woods. Once, 
in a fit of condescension, or in that expansiveness of spirit 
which seizes some women when they have a new acquisition to 
display, Mrs. Toynbee had asked Sylvia to come and see her 
drawing-room, and Sylvia had reluctantly accepted the patron- 
izing invitation. She had surveyed those brand-new splendours, 
and wondered from what wild chaos of the artistic mind uphol- 
sterers had evoked the designs for those serpentine chairs, those 
rickety coflee tables, and plaster of Paris pedestals for flower- 
pots, which looked like ^ded lamp-posts. Sylvia had duly 
admired the Toynbee drawing-room, and had been regaled with 
a stale macaroon and a glass of sherry, which tasted of sulphuric 
acid and cayenne pepper. She had not forgotten the room, nor 
the condescension wnich had prompted its exhibition. She 
recalled both now, with a curious smile. 

** When I am Lady Perriam I will ask Mrs. Toynbee to come 
and see my drawing-room," she thought. 

There was just time for some light refreshment of wine and 
biscuits, and a certain poundcake, upon which the Perriam 
housekeeper prided herself, before the carriage was announced. 
There had been time, too, for Sir Aubrey te engage his new 
friends to dine at Perriam on the following Tuesday. 

" Sunday is a leisure day with you, I suppose, Carew," he 
said meditatively. He had been thinking that the Sabbath 
would seem Ions and dull to him if he could not see Sylvia. 

" No, Sir Aubrey, I am not my own man till late in the even- 
ing. I have to take the school to church.** 

** Dear me, yes, to be sure,'' said the baronet, a little startled. 
That school business was decidedly unpleasant. He had aJmoet 
forgotten it while he was talking to Sylvia in the starlight. 



** In iomCt Amhition is the Chief Concern.^* 137 

He escorted Ms guests to tlie carriage, an old-fasliloned 
lemon-coloured chariot, in whicli his father and mother had 
ridden. But the vehicle, though ancient, had been carefully 
preserved. The drab damask lining was spotless, the cushions 
luxurious. Never before had Miss Carew sat in such a carriage. 
^ •* Good-bye," laid Sir Aubrey, holding Sylvia's hand with a 
lingering pressure, while the coachman looked round to see how 
long his master meant to stand at the carriage door. " Good- 
bye, I shall call upon your father on Monday. 

The chariot drove away, and Sir Aubrey went back to the 
house slowly, thoughtfully. The glamour of Sylvia's presence 
was hardly gone from him when he awoke to the consciousness 
that he had done a desperate act. He did not altogether regret 
the step which he had taken. He was proud to think that 
Svlvia had accepted him. But he had a dimly doubtful feeling, 
like that of a purchaser who has just bought something he is 
not very sure of wanting. The object was a bargain, perhaps, 
and yet the buyer might have been as well off without it. 

" What will Mordred say P " he asked himself, as he went 
back to the saloon. And beyond Mordred was that outside 
world which he had affected to despise, a little while ago, on 
yonder terrace. 

Mordred sat near one of the lamps, turning over the leaves 
of a Quarterly, and utterly unsuspicious. He boked up as his 
brother came into the room, and in his mild dreamy face there 
was no indication of curiosity. 

"A very intelligent person, that Mr. Carew," he said, " rather 
superior to his position." 

" Bather superior I I should think so, indeed ! " returned the 
baronet almost testilv. '* Any one can see at a glance that the 
man is a gentleman by birth and education." 

" I wonder how he comes to be a village schoolmaster," re- 
marked Mordred in a speculative tone. 

** Because the man is evidently a fellow of your stamp. One 
of those dreamy intellectual Sybarites who would be content 
wii^ an y po sition in which they are not required to exert them- 
selves, what would become of you, do you suppose, Mordred, 
if you hadn't an income, and Ferriam to five in P Do you think 
you could attain any higher position than Mr. Garew has 
secured for himself P" 

"I daresay not," answered Mordred meekly; "but it inust 
H tiresome teaching boys. Thank Providence, I'm not obliged 
Id do it." 

"What do you think of Miss Carew P" asked Sir Aubrey 
irom the shelter of his arm-chair at the other end of the roonu 

" The young lady I " said Mordred, as tf he had just remem- 
bered, the fact of her existence; "the young \»Ah ^Vq <:»a&.^ 



laS Taken at the Flood. 

with Mr. Care«r. Bather a pleasing young person, I shouLl 
think/\ 

Pleasing I Sir Aubrey's goddess of beauty — ^his Madonna 
after Ba&elle— his Yenus afbjBr Titian — sumxned up in the 
vapid epithet ** pleasing." 

After this Sir Aubrey was in no humour t« tell Mordred any- 
thing. Better, perhaps, to keep his secret till he and Sylvia 
were actually married. Let people be as much astonished a« 
they pleased afterwards. They could be married quietlv some 
morning by licence, giving no one more than a few hours notice 
of the ract. Amd they could be in Paris before people began to 
wonder. Sir Aubrey was particularly anxious to escape the 
wonderment which this somewhat eccentric marriage was likdly 
to occasion. 



k 



OHAPTEB XXIIL 

MBS. STANDEN IS INCOySISTENT. 

Silvia said not a word to her father about Sir Aubrey's o&r 
during the drive home. Nor had Mr. Garew the faintest sus- 
picion that the affair had reached a crisis. He had been 
snpremelv satisfied to note the main fact that Sir Aubrey 
admired his daughter, and had trusted that time might risen 
admiration so decided into love. But that the Lord of the 
Manor would offer his hand and fortune to this obscure maiden 
after having seen her only four times, was something beyond 
Mr. Garew*s wildest dream. And here the schoolmaster may 
have shown himself somewhat deficient in knowledge of human 
nature. For, to rive Sir Aubrey time for the ripening of his 
fascination into affection, would have been also to give nim time 
for those prudent reflections which must occur to the matured 
mind of middle age. It was only while the glamour was upon 
him that Sir Aubrey was likely to forget rank and race for the 
sake of this new fancy. And the glamour was strongest while 
the fancw^ was newest.* 

Satisfied with what he deemed the steady progress of. Sir 
Aubrey's flame, Mr. Garew forbore from questioning his 
daughter. They drove home almost in silence, and Sylvia left 
her father in the parlour with a brief good-night. 

Once safe in her own little room, she flung herself beside the 
bed, where her wretohed mother had kbelt twt) nights before^ 
and for the first time in her life wept a Good of passionate tears. 



Mrs. Standen is Inconsistent, 139 

The sense of her treason ha<i come npon her in all its fulness 
dinng that silem; homeward drive. She felt herself the basest 
and falsest of women. She was half inclined to think that aV 
the splendonr this earth could give would be worthless to her 
without Edmund. Yet, through all, she never contemplated 
the possibility of retracing the step which she had taken — of 
asking Sir Aubrey to rSease her from the rash promise of 
to-night. 

No — she wept for her absent lover, and wept for her own 
infidelity — but she meant to be Lady Ferriam all the same 
Remorse gnawed her heart, but she held steadily to the new 
purpose of her life. She would reign in triumph over tlw 
people who had slighted her. She would win all that made 
life worth having. 

Broken and feverish were her dreams that night, during 
briefest snatches of slumber. One moment her lover's re- 
proachful face was before her, and in the next the stately 
tront of Ferriam Flace. She was standing in the Italian garden^ 
under a starlit sky, but it was Edmund Standen, and not Sir 
Aubrey, who stood beside her. 

She awoke from such a dream as this, with an iniquitous 
thought. ** Sir Aubrey is almost an old man. He may die 
before many years are over, and I may marry Edmund after 

oJi. 

What pride, what happiness, to* make Edmund lord oC Fer- 
riam I Sne forgot that family estates are apt to be entailed. 
She fancied herself sole mistress of Sir Aubrey's lands and 
wealth, giving all to LiJr first lover. And cradled oy this bi-ight 
dream Sylvia sank into peaceful slumber just as the birds were 
beginning to sing. 

She awoke in a frame of mind that was almost cheerful, 
though that haunting image of her jilted lover still pursued 
her. " After gfi, it was better for him, that was the argument 
with which slid strove to pacify the Eumenides of conscience. 
" He may marry Miss Rochdale," she said to herself once, but 
that idea was too keen a torment. She could not entertain it.r 

" No, he will be in no hurry to marry," she thought, " but he 
will live with his mother, and be a countiy gentleman. He is 
made for that. To reduce him to a clerk's position would be 
shameful cruelty. It would be selfishness in me to accept the 
sacrifice his generosity rates so lightly. And how can I doubt 
that our marriage would result in unhappinessF He would 
regret the sacrifice when it was too late. And after an absence 
of three months his love will have cooled a little, perhaps," she 
reflected, witk a regretful sigh. ** Altogether, what has hap- 
pened must be better for bcUi of tis, however dearly we may 
nave loved each other. Fapa is right. Fortune CK^t&Ks^ \k^ «^ 



140 2hken at the Flood. 

woman only once in her life. She must be worse than foolish 
if she rejecte it." 

It was Sunday. Sylvia hated Sundays. The perpetual church 
and Sunday school had no charm for her. She knew the 
Bible history by heart, and was beyond measure weary of those 
Bible stories whose unsurpassable grandeur is somewhat lowered 
in the minds of those who hear the sacred volume droned 
through Sunday after Sunday by the harsh voice of school- 
children, in a level high-pitched bawl. And then Sunday 
exposed Miss Carew to some mortification irom the exhibition 
of new go^vns and bonnets on the part of young-lady teachers. 
Those young ladies seemed to have something new every 
Sunday. If they could not dazzle the g^aze with a new bonnet, 
they could generally exhibit a neck ribbon, a pair of cuffs, a 
parasol, or a collar, which had been on view in Ganzlein's 
window a day or two before. Sylvia only saw those splendours 
from the outside of Ganzlein's plate glass. For her Sunday 
never meant new clothes. 

Bat to-day how different would be her feelings when those 
insolent Hedinghamites flounced past her in their Sabbath 
finery ! How proudly she would return their scornful looks, 
strong in the thought of the new dresses that she would wear as 
Lady Perriam ! Looked at from this point of view, her eleva- 
tion seemed almost too bright a dream ever to be realized. In 
the face of that little Hedingham world she became altogether 
worldly. The Eumenides ceased to torment her with E£nund 
Standen's image. She thought of nothing but her triumph 
over Hedingham. 

It was on this subject that her thoughts ran all through the 
morning service — ^the dresses she would wear, the parties she 
would give, her Continental tours, all those glories of rank and 
state which migbt be hers as Sir Aubrey's wife. The service, 
which generally seemed long to this impatient spirit, seemed 
brief to-day, so splendid were those visions of the mture. 

" I shall come to Hedingham Church on Sunday mornings 
when I am married," she said to herself. "It is all very well 
to have a church of one's own in one's own park. But I should 
like the Hedingham people to see my dresses." 

A little thriU of remorse or compunction stirred her heart at 
sight of the Dean House pew, where she had been wont to see 
her lover's tall figure and handsome head every Sunday. Many 
a look had she sl^len in that direction in the Sabbath aays that 
were gone; many a tender thought had she sent towards that 
faithral lover; and now her love was a thing of the past. With 
one sfftdden wrench she had plucked it out of her heart. But 
even in the first flush of triumph her heart seemed empty with- 
out that banished love. 



Mrs. Standen U Inconsisfeni. 141 

There sat Mrs. Standen in her accustomed seat, with Miss 
Bochdale at her side, both dressed with that extreme correct* 
ness which is apt to irritate the temper of less happy females 
who are conscious of various imperfections in their attire. Mrs. 
Standouts rich silk dress, Maltese lace shawl, and white bonnet 
with spotless plumage, were provokingly.new and neat-looking. 
Her Honiton collar was adjusted to per&tion, her pale lavender 

gloves had not a wrinkle, even her prayer-book looked as if it 
ad just come from the binder's hands. And Miss Eochdale's 
costume had the same vaxatious neatness. The fresh-looking 
m^islin, the fashionable sash, the dainty little white tulle bonnet 
with mauve pansies. Sylvia locked her lips, with that resolute 
look of hers, as she thought how she would quench the modest 
light of these provincieu toilets when she was mistress of 
Perriam. 

'* It is worth while breaking my heart to be revenged upon 
them all," she said to herself, as a little choking sensation came 
into her throat at sight of Edmund's empty place. 

She was sitting by the open window an;er church, listlessly 
turning the leaves of " Werter," and thinking how Edmund 
had told her that his love for her was as sudden and as strong 
as the passion of that unfortunate young German, when she 
heard the rustle of a silk gown and the click of the garden g^te. 
She started up from her seat, feeling that something was going 
to happen, and with a shrewd guess as to what that something 
was. She had been paler than usual all that morning, but she 
grew paler still at the thought of what was coming. 

Yes, she had not. been mistaken. It was Mrs. Standen who 
had opened the garden gate. She was sailing up the Httle path, 
in her spreading silk dress, followed by Esther Bochdale. 

Sylvia fancied there was a condescending air in their very 
walk. They looked like a queen and princess who had come 
to visit a peasant girl. Her face, ashy pale just now, flamed 
crimson as the door opened and Mrs. Standen and she stood 
face to face. 

" I saw you at the window, Miss Carew, so I didn't knock," 
said Edmund's mother, in a tone that had a certain stately 
kindness. 

Esther went to the girl and took her hand, and would have 
kissed her had there been the faintest encouragement in 
Sylvia's face. But there was none. The blush died away, and 
left the face pale once more. Sylvia drew a chair forward for 
Mrs. Standen, but uttered no word of welcome. 

** I thought you would like to hear our latest news of my 
son," said Mrs. Standen, looking keenly at that alabaster face, 
" but perhaps you have had a letter by the same Dost that 
brought me one, from Southampton. We can heas ha iblQ'l^M^ 



142 Taken ai the Flood, 

we hear from St. Thomas. Edmnnd will write from therft hofore 
he goes on to Demerara in the inter-colonkl diiffamer/ 

Mrs. Standen was not displeased by that pale look in th« 
ffrVs faoe. She had a deep feeling at any rate. And Mrs* 
Standen reproached herself remembering how she had con- 
demned this ^1 as shallow and frivolons. 

Yes,*' said Sylvia, " T had a letter from Sonthampton."* 

Dear letter! Her first love letter! She had shed happy 
tears over its pages. And already she had betrayed the writer. 
A deep sense of guilt and shame came upon her as she stood 
before these two — her judges, perhaps. 

" Pray sit down," said Mrs. Standen, with lofty kindness, 
** I came on purpose to have a little talk with yon. I pro- 
mised Edmund that I would come and see you while he was 
away." 

" jTou are too good," replied Sylvia, sitting down, and picking 
up •* Werter," which had fallen to the ground just now. 

" You were reading when we carire in," said Esther, who felt 
the conversation was coming to a dead-lock. 

-Yes." 
' •* I hope you have some niije Sunday books," remarked Mrs. 
Standen, directing a suspicious glance at ** Wertei*," which had 
not a Sabbatarian aspect. 

" I hate Sunday books," replied Sylvia, frankly, ** or at least 
most of them. I rather liked * Ecce Homo.' Edmund lent it 
to me a little while ago." 

Mrs. Standen cast a horrified look at Esther. They had both 
heard of that book, and read paragraphs about it in the news- 
papers ; and were dimly aware that it was not orthodox. And 
that Edmund should have lent an uuorthodox book to his be- 
trothed was enough to curdle their blood. 

** I am sorry my son reads books of that kind, still more sorry 
that he should lend them to you," said Mrs. Standen. " I will 
send you some nice books to-morrow. Jt^ that a novel in your 
handP" 

" It is a story," replied Sylvia, " a German story." 

" Oh," said Mrs. Standen, concluding that a Glerman story 
must be some harmless tale of the hobgoblin species. " That is 
hardly a nice book for Sunday. Edmund ought to have been 
more careful in providing you with really nice books." 

" I had finished my education before I had the honour to 
make Mr. Standen's acquaintance," said Sylvia, with scornful 
lip. She was not going to be lectured like one of the school- 
children. She, the future Lady Perriam ! How she could 
nmsh this domineering woman by the simple announcement of 
Ipfr enga^ment to Sir Aubrey ! But she felt that any state- 
iieut of that fact to- day would be premature. She Imd to retire 



Mrs. Stmien is Inconsistent. 118 

froro tlie old engagement witH dignity before she acknowledged 
the new one. * 

" It is a common error for jonng people to think thej have 
finished theii' education when they have acquired a smattering 
of a few subjects," Mrs. Standen said severely. " In my time 
ediication was more solid. We learned slowly, but we learned 
w^lL** 

Sylvia gave a little impatient sigh. Had they come here t« 
catechize ner P 

^* However, I did not oome to talk about education," continued 
Mrs. Standen, as if divining the meaning of that sigh ; " I came 
for a little really friendly talk. I have no doubt you are aware, 
Miss Carew, that I have been strongly opposed to this engage- 
ment between you and Edmund." 

•* Yes. Mr. Standen told me so." 

" A time has come, however, when I feel that further opposi- 
tion would be both unkind and futile. I do not say thai 1 
revoke my decision as to the disposal of his father's fortune." 

Sylvia's heart gave a sudden flutter. What was coming 
nowf 

'• But," continued Mrs. Standen, ** I wish to feel as kindly as 
possible towards the girl my son has chosen for his Wife. And 
if Time should show me that I have been altogether wrong in 
my ideas, I shall not be too proud to change my mind, and to 
make a fair division of the eataie which I now think of bequeath- 
ing entirely- to my daughter." 

" A fair division," thought Sylvia, with supreme scorn. " That 
means seven hundred a year. Grenteel beggary as compared 
with Sir Aubrey's income. And that only on condition that 
I give satisfaction to Mrs. Standen — and suffer myself to be 
dictated to by Mrs. Standen, for the next twenty years of my 
Hfe." 

Sylvia's ideas of a competence had expanded since she had 
thought fifteen hundred a year a noble foHuiie. 

Mrs. Standen thought she had made a great concession by 
this speech. She looked for some token of gratitude from Sylvia, 
but there was none. The girl sat silent for a few moments, 
thinking deeply. It seemed to her that the time had come in 
which she could creditably withdraw from an engagemeiit 
which had now become embarrassing. It is rather an awkward 
thing to be engaged to two gentlemen at once; and even Sylvia's 
well-balanced mmd was hardly equal to the situation. 

" You are very good, Mrs. Standen," she said, with wonderful 
self-possession, ''and I am glad to find you can act more 
generously than I had supposed y6u capable of a^^ing — after 
what your son told me. But do not you think tha^ftn engage- 
ment which can never give more tlian partial ea.ti&t^wc^^'<QL Na 



k 



114 Hhien at ike Flood. 

joa — which interferes with your former plansy* with a oridl 
glance at Esther — " and which begins in loss to Edmund, h&d 
much better be broken off P" 

"WhatP*' cried Mrs. Standen, with an incredulous look. 
But Sylvia went on calmly : 

*' l^hile Edmumd was here his influence was strong enough to 

g)yem all my ideas. I could only see things as he saw them, 
ut since he has been gone, I haye had time to think dispas- 
sionately. I told him more than once that our en^gement was 
an unlucky one for both of us. I am yery sure of it now. And 
so, Mrs. Standen, with many thanks for the hope which you are 
good enough to hold out of luture clemency, I return you your 
son's freedom." 

"Do you mean (ILis, Miss GarewP" asked Mrs. Standen, 
now as pale as the girl herself. She was as angry with Sylyia 
for this readiness to give up her lover as for her capture of 
him. 

" No, she does not mean it," cried Esther impulsively. " She 
would not break Edmund's heart, and it is bound up in her. 
She loves him as he deserves to be loved. It is false pride or 
mistaken generosity that urges her to surrender him. She 
cannot help loving nim, when he loves her so dearly. Tou are 
too hard with her, auntie. Speak the truth, Sylvia. Confess 
that you love him." 

'* I do," answered the girl, with a passionate emphasis; "but 
I will never marry him. I wiU not enter a family that despises 
me." 

'* No one despises you. Auntie, tell her that you don't despise 
her." 

" I should despise her if she were false to my son," said the 
mother sternly. All thought of her own prejudice, her own in- 
stinct was for the moment banished. She thought only of 
Edmund, and the wrong done to him. 

" I will not enter a family that would receive me on sufferance. 
I will not be the means of impoverishing the man I love." 

"You will not marry an impoverished man," said Mrs. 
Standen. "You had better state the case correctly. Miss 
Oarew." 

" You have always chosen to think badly of me, Mrs. Standen," 
returned Sylvia, without flinching; "you will, no doubt, con- 
tinue to do so, even though the decision I have arrived at is 
one that must cause you satisfaction. You have opposed this 
engagement with all your might. I now release your son from 
it. What more can you wishP" 

" I could wish you had a better heart. Miss Carew." 

" Have I a bad heart because I refuse to accept yonr son'f 
sacrifice P " 



Mrs, Standen is Inconsistent 145 

** If yon loved him, you would tlink only of his happiness; 
which is, most nnfortnnately, dependent upon your caprice." 

" There is no caprice in what 1 am doing, roverty is a hard 
master, and has taught me to know the world better than yonr 
son. I am wise enough to know that he would repent his self- 
sacrifice by-and-by/when it would be too late. My lather refused 
his consent to our marriage the day Edmund left. I thought 
him cruel and uniust then ; I know better now." 

"And pray what has brought you so much wisdom, Miss 
Carew P " said Mrs. Standen, who had risen, and drawn near the 
door, and stood there in a haughty attitude, ready to depart. 
Esther lingered by Sylvia, with a menUly hand stretched out 
to her now and then, as if to restrain the rash impulse that 
"•ight destroy all her hopes. 

** Beflection," answered Sylvia, without a blush. 

** And am I to write and tell my son your heroic decision P 
Am I to tell him that you have chosen the very moment in 
which I had reconciled myself to this union for your renuncia- 
tion oflumP" 

"You need tell him nothing," answered Sylvia, with a 
strangled sob ; " I will write to mm myself." 

" Then I have nothing more to do than to wish you good 
morning. My first and last visit to you is ended." 

** Sylvia," cried Esther entreatingly, "you do not mean this; 
you are acting from passion-^from false, foolish pride. Yon do 
not know how good and true Mrs. Standen is, how well her love 
is worth winning, even if it must be slowly won. For your own 
sake — for Edmund's — ^unsay your rash words. You own that 
you love him." 

"With all my heart," said Sylvia, white to the lips. 

" Then you cannot mean to give him up." 

" I do mean it. - It is best and wisest for us both. I do 
mean it." 

" Then I have done with you," said Esther, with more passion 
than was common to that gentle nature. " I leave you to be 
happy in your own way." 

Tney left her, and Svlvia sat like a statue, staring blankly at 
^e groondy and with those last words sounding in her ears. 



OHAPTEE XXIV. 

SIB AT7BliET*S LAND STEWARD. 

Once having taken the desperate leap which a few dr^ys ago 
lie would have hardly believed it possible for him to take, Sir 



yd Taken at the Flood. 

Aubrej \foS like a man caught in the web of some mjstae 
enchantaient. He was in feverish haste to make his bondage 
secnre. Hie inward oonyiotion that aQ the world — or all his 
world, which comes to the same thing — ^wonld secrett7 disi^ 
prore his new scheme of lilfe, goaded him on to the commotion of 
thai act began in a yresik moment of bewilderment. Upon the 
path which he had taken delay seemed impossible. 

** If I give these Hedin^ham and Monknampton people time 
to talk about me, they will torment me to death, he mid to 
lumselfr ** The only plan is to be beforehand with them. My 
marriage cannot take place too soon." 

Sir Aubrey's world was a very small one^ almost as small as 
8ylvia Oarew's. Yet, there were some people in that small 
world about whose opinion he concerned himsetf not a little, not- 
withstanding that they were creatures of an inferior rank, whose 
approval or disapproval ought to have weighed lightly with 

The two people of whom he thought most at this imjportant 
crisis of his life were people whose very lives were, in a manner, 
dependent upon the l^ht of his countenance. One was Sha- 
drach Bain, nis solicitor and land steward. The other was Jeain 
Ohapelain, his valet. 

Half a century ago the family solicitors of the honse of Per- 
riam had been an old-established firm in Lincoln's Inn, men who 
ranked among the aristocracy of the legal profession, who did 
everjrthing in a grand, slow way, kept the title-deeds, wills, and- 
marriage settlements of their clients in large iron safes that 
seemed inaccessible to roan, so reluctantly were tliey opened, 
and who were altogether ponderous and respectable. Half a 
century ago, thererore, the lord of Perriam would have been 
outraged by the idea of employing a local solicitor. He had his 
land steward, or bailiff, a gentleman by birth and education, but 
not a lawyer; and all leases and contracts of whatev^ kind 
connected with the Perriam estate were drawn up and executed 
in their own tardy style by Messrs. Ferret and Tape of Lin« 
coin's Inn. Sir Andrew Perriam, however. Sir Aubrey's fathex, 
had brought about a ehange in these things. He was a gentle- 
man of close, and even miserly disposition, and soon after inhe- 
riting the propertjr had discovered that the keenest pleasure he 
could derive from its possession would be found in its extension. 
He added a slip of woodland here, a field or two there, and, 
as the years crept by and his last map showed a widening 
boundary line to the lands of Peniam, felt that he had not lived 
la vain. 

Sir Andrew speedily discovered that the gentleman land 
steward, who hunted three days a week in the season, and kept 
t pony carriage for his wife and daughters, was a mistake. He 



Sir Atiir*ri/*s Land Steward. 447 

t^aB not lialf sharp cmongli witli the tenants, was mnch too 
ready to dip his hand into his etn ploy er*s pocket for repairs and 
improvements, instead of squeezing everything ont of th4 
lessees ; in fact, demoralized by his own easy life, he had becom« 
pemicioasly indulgent, and criminally indifferent to the interests 
of his employer. His salary was hberal, and he had thus an 
assured income, which underwent no diminution on account of a 
tenantless fai:m or a bankrupt tenant. This, Sir Andrew argued, 
was a radical error in' the relations of master and steward. He 
had also a house rent free, and that the Ferffam dower-house, a 
roomy old mansion of the Elizabethan order, which, with its 
ample gardeitti, orchards, and meadows, might have been let for 
two hundred a year. This, thougpht Sir Andrew, was a stlU 
greater mistake. 

Having discovered this weakness in his business arrange- 
ments. Sir Andrew cast about him- for a remedy, and was not 
slow to find one. The gentlen&an steward was dismissed with 
but a^ quarter's notice; the dower-house was let to a retired 
Monkhampton grocer : and Sir Andrew entrusted the collection 
of his rents,- and the drawing up of leases and agreements, to 
Mr. Bain, an attorney at Moiikhampton. This gentleman, 
shrewd, active, conciliiating, and indefatigable, speedily con- 
trived to establish a powerful influence over his employer. The 
Lincoln's Inn lawyers were ousted from their hold on the Per- 
riam estate-^the title-deeds, leases, and covenants wrested from 
their unwilling hands, and all the business that Sir Andrew had 
to give was given to Mr. Bain. When Sir Andrew made his 
will, it was Mr. Bain who drew up that document, Mr. Bain's 
clerks who witnessed its signature. 

The uneventful years went by, and Sir Andrew slept the 
sleep of his forefathers, very well satisfied to his last hour with 
Mr. Bain's administration of the estate. Ten years after the 
death of his patron — the man who, in Monkhampton parlance, 
had made him — Mr. Bain was also gathered to his fathers, in 
tnsir unpretending resting-place in the churchyard at Monk- 
hampton. His son, a man of thirty, succeeded to the Perriam 
stewardship, and Sir Aubrey, who, with something of his 
father's love of money, had not inherited his father's busmes? 
capacity, was glad to put his trust in an administrator whose 
managemient seemed always profitable to his employer. Sha- 
drach Bain, the son, was, it anything, a better administrator than 
his father; for, from the time he left thei Monkhampton Gram- 
mar School^ at sixteen years of age, the Perriam estate had 
been the one all absorbing thought of his mind. He knew it 
waa tiie chief lieritage. to which he was to succeed. He kne« 
that whatever his fatiier might have saved out of his incon. 
nad to be divided among a family of five, two soup 9nd tlirc^ 



14(8 Taken at the Flood. 

dangliters, wliile the Ferriam stewardslup was to descend, jmiact^ 
to him the ddest. There could be no division of that steward* 
ship. Peter, the younger son, had been educated at a local 
college for Baptist ])reachers, and aspired to the honourab^^ 
position of minister in the little chapel in Water-lane, one of 
the bj-streets of Monkhampton. The Bains had been Baptisti 
almost from the establishment of that sect. 

Shadrach Bain knew every rood of ground within the boundary 
of Sir Aubrey's land. From the summit of a distant hill he 
could point with his whip-handle to every bush, or knoll, or 
bank, or poplar that indicated the dividing line between the 
property of Sir Aubrey and his neighbouring landowners. " Mj 
father negotiated the purchase of yonder fcdlow," he would say 
proudly; " sixteen acres two roods and three x)erchefl, and bought 
it uncommonly cheap. You see the three poplars at the corner? 
That's our boundary. Kothing like poplars to mark your line-^ 
grow quick and cast very little shadow." 

He was a good farmer, Mr. Bain, though his direct and per^ 
Bonal experience of agriculture was confined to the cultivation 
of a neat kitchisn garden, orchard, and meadow in the rear of 
his square, substantial dweUing-house in the High-street of 
Monknampton. But he had read all the best books upon 
agriculture ; before he was twenty he had made himself tho- 
roughly acquainted with every improvement in agricultural 
implements; he had surveyed every farm within a day's 
journey of Monkhampton ; had gone the round of the Ferriam 
estate with his father as often as opportunity permitted; 
and, in keenness of vision, and clearness of comprehension 
and knowledge of the subject, was as good a farmer as he was 
a lawyer. 

This man was now, for all practical purposes, master of the 
Ferriam Manor. ^ 

Sir Aubrey knew about as much of farming or the capabilities 
of the estate, as he knew of the buried relics of Troja. So long 
as there was no fluctuation or falling off in his income, he was 
tolerably satisfied. His eye was pleased with the neat and 
picturesque appearance of uie estate, as he rode his brown cob 
SpUnter Dctween the green banks of those sheltered lanes which 
intersected his domain. In one thin^ only did he and Mr. Baip 
differ. Sir Aubrey forbade the cuttmg down of a single tree, 
while Shadrach was, in his heaxt of hearts, for the stubbing-up 
system, and grumbled Sorely at those fine old oaks and spread- 
ing beeches which made the beauty of the landscape, and soured 
the land beneath their dense leafage. 

Things had gone well for Sha£ach Bain. He had married 
mg, and eminently to his own advantage ; though the Bain 
iily affected to consider that Shadrach had condescended 




Sir Aubrey^i Land Steward, 149 

0Oin6wliat^lien lie married Miss Dawker, eldest daughter of 
William Dawker, the Monkhampton grocer and provision 
dealer, who supplied all the surrounding unions and public in- 
stitutions, and whose trade was altogether rather wholesale than 
Tetail. 

Mr. Dawker had died shortly after his daughter's marriage, 
and Mrs. Bain inherited her portion of six thousand pounds 
•terlir.ff ; which, judiciously invested in cottage property, pro* 
duced between four and five hundred a year. Shadrach was, 
therefore, in some measure, an independent man, and Monk- 
hampton esteemed him accordingly. His house was one of the 
bestin the town; his garden a pattern of neatness; his dog« 
cart fresh and bright as if newly come from the coach-builder's ; 
his horses — he never drove the same two days running — well 
groomed and cared for. His servants stayed with him year after 
year^ his children were well dressed, in a plain, substantial 
style, but with small regard to the mutations of fashion. His 
family pew in the Water-lane Chapel presented a picture of 
which Monkhampton Baptists were proud. 

Now, when Sir Aubrey Perriam thought of Shadrach Bain, 
with his hard, commonplace method of coming at things, his 
rooted objection to the Ornamental, his utter indifierence to the 
Beautiful, and thought how such a man would receive the tid- 
ings of an intended marriage between a gentleman of fiffcy* 
seven years of age and a young lady of nineteen, whose sole 
distinction, for vulgar minds, was her lovely face, his heart sank 
within him, and he felt that he would have a disa^eable busi- 
ness to go through when he announced to Mr. Bam the fact of 
his engagement with Sylvia Carew. 
^ Yet, it would be necessary to acquaint his steward and soli- 
citor with that fact before the marriage took place. Some kind 
of settlement ttlere must be, though Sylvia was penniless. Mr. 
Bain was the person to draw up that settlement. 
^ Jean Chapelain, the valet, was another individual who exer- 
cised a stronger influence over the mind of his master than Sir 
Aubrey would have cared to admit. An elderly bachelor, who 
keeps very little company, and .passes some months of every 
year in the close quaiiiers of a Parisian entresol, is apt to make 
his body-servant something of a companion. Chapelain*s edu- 
cation was in advance of his position. He had read a good 
deal, in a desultory way, took a warm interest in European poli- 
tics, and was, on the whole, a good deal better informed than 
his master. If Sir Aubrey wanted to talk, he could hardly 
talk to any one better worthy to be honoured wilii his conversa- 
tion than the valet.. 

Thus, for the last twenty years, Jean Chapelain and hi& 
laaster had lived in close oompajiionfthip. luX^ '^««xl^ ?s^;\s2E!^^aiii 



i 



150 Ihken at the Flood. 

ihetic ears Sir Aabrey had poured the elderly bachelor's phflo- 
sophical reflections upon hfe and humanity. To Jean he had 
declared not once, but many times, that he valued the privileges 
of a single man far too well to barter them for the unknown 
jovs of married life. Jean and he had laughed together at the 
folly of elderly Benedicts, the cynical laugh of men who had 
both drawn their views of life from the deep well of worldly wit 
and worldly wisdom, the writings of the most brilliant worldliag 
the light ever shone upon, Yolteire. 

To confess to Jean Ohapelain that he had fallen in love. and 
was ^oing to marry the object of his affection, would be mor^ 
humiliating even than to make the same confession to Shadradb 
Bain. 

But, happily, reflected Sir Aubrey, Ghapelain need know 
nothing of tne marriage till it was an accomplished fiurt He 
oonld hardly grumble much then. 



CSHAPTEE XXy, 

MATTEBS PINAjN.CJAJ.. 

I^GT a word did Sylvia; pay to her faf^er.pJl thi;pugh thaj^ $uo- 
day. He was at chuiph almost jjill day .with 4^ pohool^ ^o the 
two saw very little of each other in private, . |ndee4». under ,tjl^e 
pretext of a severe headache, Sylvia escapNsd her usiial Sui^i^ay- 
school teaching, and afternoon and evening church, an4:.CK>]^- 
trived to spend the greater part of the day in the soHtude cf her 
own bedroom. There she could think in quiet ; thinks perhaps* 
very much as Judas may have thought, .before he . went ^^d 
hanged himself. 

It is a kind of fate in some natures to betray. Falsehoo4.ii 
written in the stars tha^ rule their destiny. 

Sylvia thought of Mrs. Staiiden's indignation, and was angry 
with that lady for conduct which certainly appeared inconsistent 

" She ought to have thanked me fqr her son's release instead 
of turning upon me like that,", the girl said to herself, as sh^ 
meditated upon that unpleasant scene with the lady who was to 
have been her mother-in-law. 

After all, it was something to have got the interview over:— ^ 
have cleared the |^und for her new enjragement. Who oou](d 
tell how soon Hedingham might know of that wondrous change 
is her position? It would be l^r desire to l^eep the {hffair;jB 



Matters Financial, 151 

secret, as long as possible. But wonld Sir Aubrey or ber fatb»- 
be l&ely to indulge this £Emoy of hers P . 

There remained the letter to be written to Edmund — thi 
eruel, treacherous letter, in which, masking self'^interest under un 
affectation of generoEdtYf she was to give him up. 'His first 
letter to her had breathed only deepest trust and purest love. 
Her first letter to him would deal 'a death-blow to nis dearest 
hopes. 

Even though she was bom to betray, it pained her to write 
that letter. > • 

The composition was a work of art. It wonld have been diffi^ 
cult to read between the lines that told only of womanly fore- 
thought and self-abnegation, and to discover the mercenary 
spirit which prompted that renunciation. The letter seemed 
aMhost heroic. And here, truth assisted falsehbod. The paaffs 
with which Sylvia surrendered her lover were real enough. Sne 
did not forsake him without bitterest pain, harder to bear than 
the sorrow of an unselfish soul, which, out of pure ini^gnanimity, 
forgoes its own joy. 

The letter was written : and it was a relief to think thatiM>me 
time must elapse ere it could reach Edmund Standen's hands. 
The mail would only leave Southampton ten days hence. 'The 
passage of the letter to Demerara womd take three weeks. Th^e 
was iMreathing time therefore. 

" Perhaps, being so entirely separated from me, and. havinff 
leisure for reflection, he may have begun to regret his fc^» and 
mv letter may come to him almost as a relief/' thought Hylvia, 
self-ezcusingly. 

On Monday evening the schoolmaster smoked hu pipe in his 
favourite seat in the doorway — ^a narrow bench inside the latticed 
porch. The day had been rainy and the garden breathed the 
freshness and p^me that follow summer rain— sweet as incense 
rising from old Greek altars, when man knew no higher Giver of 
Good than Zeils or Demeter. 

Sylvia had left her chair by the window, and had |t>me, wcnrk 
in hand, to the doorway. She stood there, looking sfkher &ther 
curiously, as if doubtful whether to speak or be silegn. 

"Papa," she said at last, <' you don't widhi me- to- marry 
Mr. StandenP" 

Jewish you to marry himl" exclaimed Mr. Carew^ un'pa* 
tientlry; "why, yon know, that I have set my face against aooh 
amanriage^^md that so far as a fiither can forbid anything, in 
these dstys Of unfilial indifference to a father^s wicdbes* I foibid 
you to marry Edmund Standen." 

" Even if Mrs. Standen were inclined to relent* papa, and to 
give a reluctant consent to the marriage, and leave EdsBBsaaBd. 
DKlf her fortune?" • > 



182 Taken at the Fhcd. 

" Is slie incliiied to do that F" 

" Yes, papa. She called here yesterday, and told mo so.** 

Mr. Garew grew thoughtfaL 

** That might have altered the case considerably a week ago^** 
he said, " bnt it only adds a perplexing element to the bnsiDess 
now. I see a mnch more brilliant chance before yon — if— if — 
the prodpect is not delusive." 

''So ao I, papa, looking at things from a worldly point of 
new." 

" From what other point of view need yon look at things P 
We don't live in the stars I" 

" Sir Aubrey Ferriam has asked me to be his wife, papa." 

Mr. Oarew started up from the little bench in the porch, and^ 
fbr the first time within Sylvia's memory, dropped his pipe. It 
was a small meerschaum, coloured by mmself, and he regpsirded 
k with an affection which he did not often bestow upon sentient 
things. He picked it up carefully, looked to see if he had 
chipped the dowI, and tnen stood staring at his daughter in 
silent amazement for some moments. 

"Sir Aubrey asked you to marry himP" he said at last. 
"In serious, sober earnest P It wasn't one of those senseless 
speeches which elderly gentiemen make to young ladies — ^mere 
old-fashioned gallantry — eh, Sylvia P " 

** No, indeed, papa. I tiiink Sir Aubrey was very much in 
earnest. His hand trembled a littie when he took mme." 

** And you accepted him P "' said the father sharply. 

He was prepared for any folly from a girl of nineteen. It is 
in the nature of youth to be sentimental ; and he supposed that 
his daughter must have the ordinary share of sentimentality. 

*' Yes, papa. I was engaged to Edmund Standen, but every- 
thing seemed to be a^nst our marriage, so I thought " 

** X ou were wise, for once in your life," cried Mr. Oarew. 
" Why, you will be a queen, child. And I — ^well, I suppose I 
shall not be compelled to end my days as a parish schoolmaster. 
Wby didn't you tell me this before P Has my life been such a 
bri^t one that you need keep the sunshine of prosperity fiom 
me?" 

** I— I— hardly knew how to tell you, papa.^ Poor Edmund. 
It seems so hard to give up every thoug^ht of him." ^ 

*Well, it's rather a sudden renunciation, certainly. How- 
ever, no girl in her senses would act otherwise than you have 
done. Bather lucky that jrour sweetheart was off to Demerara." 

** Yes, papa. I don't tmnk I could have accepted Sir Aubrey 
if Edmund nad not been away." 

** I suppose Sir Aubrey means to explain himself to me to- 
morrow.^' 

** I think he is coming here to-night» papa.'* 



Matters Mnancial. 153 

''Then yon liad better clear ont of the way. We mnst hav« 
onr talk alone." 

** Very well, papa. I'll go to Mary Peter's. I want to see 
the dress she's making for Miss Jane Toynbee. Oh, how nice 
it will be when I have new dresses of my own ! Oh, by-the- 
bye, papa, if Sir Aubrey should want to fix the date of our 
marriage — ^he would hardly wish to do that yet awhile, but if he 
should — make it as far off as you can. I don't want the Stan- 
dens quite to despise me, as they would if they knew that I had 
jilted Edmund in order to marry Sir Aubrey. 

"Defer the marriage!^ Yes, and give Sir Aubrey time to 
alter his mind, or to £e in the interval ; and then you would 
realize the old adage of ' between two stools.' No, Sylvia ; if 
Sir Aubrey wishes for a short engagement I shall not be insane 
enough to propose delay." 

Sylvia sighed, thought of all the joys that must attend the 
translation fiom poverty to wealth, and submitted. She put 
on her hat, and ran off to spend half an hour amouff the cut- 
tings of silk and lining and open papers of pins which bestrewed 
MaiT Peter*s humble apartment on a busy evening. What 
would Mary Peter say if she heard of this new engagement P 
There had been talk enough and astonishment enough about 
Edmund Standen's subjugation. But this latter conquest was 
as far above the first as vondier evening star, shining sotUy above 
the cypress, surpasses the feeble lustre of village lamps. Sylvia 
did not mean to tell her humble confidante about the change in 
her circumstances yet awhile. 

Mr. Garew had not been alone ten minutes before he heard 
the click of the latch, and the garden gate opened to admit Sir 
Aubrey Perriam. The schoolmaster had been wondering, with 
sore perplexity, whether that proposal, whereof Sylvia had just 
informed him, had been realljr a serious offer, or only one of 
those florid meaningless compUments which gentlemen of the 
old school are apt to indulge m. 

The sight of that gray-haired figure in the summer dusk set 
his heart beating at a gallop. The whole thing had seemed too 
good to be true. But this appearance of the baronet seemed to 
confirm Sylvia's statement. 

James Garew emptied the ashes out of his pipe, and dropped 
that treasure into the pocket of his well-worn velveteen snoot- 
ing jacket as Sir Aubrey came up the garden path. ^ 

'* Qood evening, Mr. Garew," said the visitor, in his low bland 
tones. " All alone P Miss Garew is out, I suppose," he added^ 
looking intQ the parlour thorough the wide open casement. 

** Yes, Sylvia has gone to see one of her friends in the villaoe. 
She has very few fnends, poor child ; and the one or two boa 
does associate with hardly oongeiual «pm\j&. "^^^^ ts£^ V^. 



15i Thken at the Flood. 

ffirl has a soft, clinging nature, and must hare Bomethix^ to 



love." 



tr. 



I regret to lose the pleasure of seeing her/' ^id Sir Aubrey, 
" yet I am not sorry she is absent, f widi to have a litUe 
aerious talk with yon, Mr. Garew. Yonr daughter has told yoa 
the motive of this visit, perhaps ?" 

: i** 8he hinted at sometning, whit^ I could hardly believe pos« 
sible. I thouffht my poor cMd, in utter ignorance of the world, 
might naturauy mistake jpUantiy for — for " 

"For affection," said Sir Aurbrey. '^I am not skilled in thi 
art of gallantry, Mr. Garew, and when I spoke to your daughtei 
t^e other night — too hastily, perhaps — I spoke straight ftoin 
my heart." 

" And yonr words went straight to hers. Sir Aubrey,** ain^ 
swered the schoofmaster with feehng. " Need I say how deeply 
I feel the honour you have conferred upon my daughtei^. . ^et 
when I reflect upon the disparity ^" * 

" In our ages * " said Sir Aubrey quickly. 

"No, Sir Aubrey, in your social position. If I objected to 
my daughter's union with a banker's son, whose family opposed 
the marriage — have I not still stronger reason to object to -a 
marriage which all the county will condemn? " 

" Do vou ima^e, sir, that I exist only to please my neigh- 
bours ? cried Sir Aubrey haughtily. " The lady I choose for 
my wife, sir, ascends at once to my own level, and let me see 
any gentleman or lady in this county who will presume to dis- 
parage her. Come, Mr. Garew, let us discuss this suliject from 
a business point of view. I have proposed for your daughter's 
hand, and she has done me the nonour ta accept me without 
reserve. The preliminaries of the mandage are all that you and 
I have to settle." . 

'^ Will you take a seat. Sir Aubrey, and allow me to light 
the candles P" said Mr. Garew» leading the way into the dusky 
parlour. 

"You needn't light candles. We can talk gust as well in 
the twilight^" eaid the visitos, seating himself just within the 
doorway. 

Mr. Garew was not sorry to remain in that friendly hal&light. 
Who could tell what questicms the baronet might intend to ask 
him — questions upon which his daughter'^ f utm?e fbrtnnemigllt 
depend— questions which might tax. his ingenuity to the utterw 
toost to answer satisfactorily P It was s^Mpae advantage to keep 
face in Hie riiadow. n- 



" When a man of my. age makes' 8iieh.a proposal 6a^hmh 
made to your daughter, began Sir - Aubr^^ " it is only natnral 
to suppose that he is moved by a deep itna '(k>werfnl feeling. I 
k&Ye neard of love as swift ana 'Ooddenaa this love of mine, and 



Mailers Financial, 158 

ridiculed it, mh^y a time before to-day. I now confess, in all 
humility, that I underrated the power of the god. He haa 
avenged himself upon my infidelity, and has trf^f onned the 
unbeUever into a fanatic. 

He paused, sighed gently, as if regnattin^ his own abascunenti 
and then went on in tiie same half-meditative tone. 

•* You say the county, which has its own standard of right» 
will take objection to my marriage to your daughter. I am pre- 
pared for that. I will go further and say I know that they will 
ridicule my infatuation — set me down as a dotai!d» at fiftj^- seven 
years of age— laugh at the old man and his fair young wue. I9 
answer to sdl this I can onlj say "that I know my. own hefurt% 
and that it is not mere admiration for your daiu;nt€ar's Joear^v 
which has in^enced my conduct. I should despise myseu 
could I think that I had been caught by a pretty face; like 
the brainless moth which seeks its destruction m the flamB that 
dbzzles and allures it. Ko, Mr. Carew, I love your daughteir 
honestly, and sincerely, in all purity and trutii; and I am 
willing to trust the remnant of my days to her keepine." 

""Nay, Sir Aubrey, at £U%-Beven a man has hai?dJjrv passed 
the mme of Hfe." . . ^ .: . ^ 

"Have you any ol^'ection to offer to this marriage, eir?" 
asked Sir Aubrey, with a statdyicondescensicin;; ^ if ^fuUy 
aware that the question was an empty courtesy. ^ 

" Objection I lam deeply honoured by your choioe. I feel more 
pride than I caiib venture to express, lest I should appeiBurser^e.-' 
...** Not another word, Mr. Carew. I feel that, however humble 
your present position may be, you were bom to occupy jabe^i^ 
one." , .. J 

"I was, Sir Aubrey. My father was a merchant <rf'e.o»e 
standing, who sent me to Eton and Oxford, and juffered.^e .to 
marry and begin life with the idea tiaat.I was a mfkn OlC indfr- 
pendent means. His failure and death within three years lof 
my poor Sylvia's birth left me a pauper. Thie.eniployntent, 
humble though it is, was the best that oil^red itself {to.thernin^ 
Oxonian, who had neither larade nor profession, you mOff say, 
perhaps, that I might in all these years have endeavoured.. V> 
improve my condition. I can only answer tb^t whfktever 
energies I ever had were deadened, by the blow Wlu<^ rednci^ 
me m)m delusive affluence to actnal poverty. The little. I oan 
earn here has sufficed to maintain my child, and myself, 'Dm 
retired life has suited my habits and. incttnations ; ^nd chns I 
have never taken arms aeainst a sea of troubles, but have rather 
preferred the obscurity of this peaceful haven^" 

" I understand,'' laid Sir Aubrey. " And you had no wife 
to share or lighten your struggles. She died before yonx 
misfortunes P" 



156 Taien at the Flood. 

*• Yes, my wife wajs dead.** 

** I inferred slb much. 

There was a panse. Sir Anbrey liad something more to saji 
bnt hardly knew how to say it. He was a rich man, and he 
had told himself that this Mr. Carew might entertain an eza^ge* 
rated notion of a wealthy bridegroom's liberality. He might 
count npon profiting to some large extent by his daughter's 
«»aion with the lord of the manor. It was for Sir Aubrey to 
undeceive him at once upon this point. 

" Your daughter havm^ done me the honour to accept me, 
and there being no impedmient to our marriage, it appears to 
me, Mr. Carew, that the event cannot take place too soon: 
unless, indeed, Sylvia should desire delay; a wish which I 
should infinitely regret, for where there is so ^reat a dis- 
parity of years that wish might indicate uncertamty of pur- 
pose. ' 

*' My daughter has no such wish, Sir Aubrey," replied Mr. 
Carew promptly : " but a woman can hardly pass from the posi- 
tion of my daughter to that of your wife without some tnfling 
preparations in the way of Rousseau*** 

** Of course. Bat in all her arrangements I hone Miss Carew 
will remember that I am a man of the simplest nabits ; that I 
see hardly any society, and that I utterly abhor the frivolities 
of fashion." 

" I have no doubt that she will be proud to be ruled by your 
superior judgment in all things," replied the schoolmaster, who 
was beginning to feel a shade of anxiety. There had been, so 
far, not a syllable that hinted at any improvement in his own 
circumstances. Sir Aubrey had not uttered the important word 
settlement. And it was a word which Mr. Carew felt could 
hardly issue from his lips. To betray his expectation of profit 
&om the marriage would seem like bargaining for the price of 
Ms daughter. 

While he was meditating this, somewhat uncomfortably. Sir 
Aubrey relieved his doubts by becoming business-like. 

** mth regard to settlements," he said, ** I conclude that as 
you can give nothing to your daughter, you will not entertain 
any exaggerated expectations upon that point. I will freely 
own to you that I do not understand or approve the modem 
system of making a wife independent of her husband. Depend- 
ence is one of woman's sweetest attributes — her most winning 
tharm. I should not like my wife — ^were she a nobleman's 
daughter — ^to possess an independent income during my lifetime. 
I shall, therefore, settle nothmg upon Sylvia." 

Mr. Carew's heart grew heavy. Whv, at this rate Edmund 
Standen might have been a better match than Sir Aubrey. 

" But I shall settle two or three thousand a year upon my 



X Matters Financiah 157 

widow. When 1 die Sylvia shall have that income, and the 
dower-honse — ^now let off, and worth two hundred a year." 

"Sir Anbrej," said the schoolmaster with a dignified air, 
*' far be it from me to dispnte the justice or the generosity of 
any decision yon may arrive at. I am certainly inclined to 
thmk that for my daughter's future comfort, and your exemp- 
tion from small worries, it might have been wise for you to 
settle upon her some moderate allowance in the waj of pin- 
money, were it only three or four hundred a year, which would 
have made her independent, so far as concerns a woman's trifUbig 
requirements." 

''A woman's triflin? requirements," echoed Sir Aubrey; 
" jTOu don't mean to teU me that your daughter, brought up in 
this cotta^, would require three or four hundred a year to ouj 
gowns and bonnets ?" 

*' Certainly not, Sir Aubrey. But charity makes a large item 
in a lady's expenditure, and oylvia, as the mistress of Perriam, 
could hardly come to you for every half-crown she wanted to 
give to a sick cottager." 

** Good heavens, sir," cried the baronet, " do you suppose that 
I cannot make my wife an allowance for pocket-money, when 
»he is my wife, without binding myself to pay her so many 
hundreds a year upon a piece of stamped parchment before X 
marry her ? I will amply provide for your daughter in the event 
of my death ; but I will never consent to render her independent 
of my bounty during my lifetime." 

The schoomiaster murmured a vague assent ; but felt more 
and more uncomfortable. " How am I to profit by such a mar- 
riage P" he wondered. " Am I to sit in the gate Hke Mordecai, 
ana to be not a jot better off for my daughters advancement P " 

Again Sir Aubrey came to his rdief. 

" As regards yourself, Mr. Carew," he began, graciously, " I 
have reflected that it could hardly be satisfactory to you to 
occupy your present position — honourable as that position is — 
when your daughter is Lady Ferriam. I shall therefore request 
you to accept a hundred a year, which I shall be very happy to 
r^it to you by^ quarterly payments, in lieu of your present 
stipend, and which will enable you to live in quiet indepen- 
dence " the baronet was about to say "elsewhere," but 

checked himself lest the phrase should sound like a sentence of 
banishment, — ** in any locality most agreeable to yourself." 

" You are very good, Sir Aubrey. I place my future entirely 
at your disposal," answered the schoolmaster. 

" A hundred^ a year ! A poor pittance, although twice as good 
as my present income," he thougbt, deeply disappointed by the 
baronet*s narrow views on the subject of settlement^. He had 
fiuiciAd fVat an elderly lover would be lavish— ready to empty 



i 



15b Taken at the Flood. 

his coffen at the f^t of his idol. And here was Sir Anbrejp^ 
driving as hard a bargain as if he had been Shadrach Bain 
cheapening a herd of store oxen at Monkhampton cattle fair. 

A nandred a year ! It seemed a pitiful resnlt of such a won- 
irous event as the baronet's subjugation. Mr. Garew coiiUl only 
comfort hircs(»li with the idea that Sylvia, once married, must 
assuredly acquire some power over her husband's purse, and that 
it would be hard if her mther were not something the better foi 
her altered fortunes. 

"You spoke just now of Sylvia's trouiseau^* said Sir Aubrey, 
who felt more at his ease now that he had expounded his views. 
" I have not forgotten that necessity. Perhaps you will contrive 
to give your daughter this little packet without offending her 
delicacy. Jt contains a hundred pounds in bank-notes." 

James Carew took the small parcel, and his faded face flushed 
fidntly at the mere thought of its contents. How long it was 
since be had held as much money in his hand ! The aa^ had 
been when a hundred pounds would have made an insigmficant 
item in the vast sum of his needs ; but of late years sovereigns 
had been as drops of his heart's blood, so dear had it cost him 
to part with them. 

' *' I shall be obliged if you bear in mind what I said just now 
sLbout simplicity of attire," said Sir Aubrey, when Mr. Garew 
had murmured his acknowledgment of the lover's first gift. " A 
woman cannot be too plainly dressed for my taste ; nor does 
Sylvia's beauty need adornment." 

Sylvia opened the gate while her elderly lover was speaking, 
and came across the dusky garden. Sir Aubrey went out to 
meet her, almost as eager as if he had been twenty-five instead 
of fifby-seven. Basiness-like and deliberate as he had been in 
the adjustment of monetary questions, he became enthusiastio 
at sight of Sylvia. 

'* My sweet one," he said, detaining her in the garden, " 1 
have seen your father, and settled evei^hing. And now I want 
you to name the happy day that is to make us one." 

That sudden appesd made Sylvia tremble. What, was her 
doom so near P. She had thought it a grand thing to be Lady 
Pernam while that change of fortune appeared still distant. 
She tad foresworn herself — renounced ner lover —become a 
renegade. Yet at the near approach of that: brilliant fortune 
for which she had sacrificed all lesser things, there came a re^ 
vtdsion of feeling. If she could by any possibility have drawn 
back at this last moment she would have done it, recalled her 
renunciaticm of Edmund, become once more the happy girl who 
had pillowed her head upon her lover's breast and felt herself 
brave enougn to face even, poverty tor his sake. 
. But it was all too late for tur»»' "" l >ack. Sir A ubrey's patrician 



.Mhftsrs FwaneuxL 159 

band had dr«wn hers gentfy throngli his arm with an ab of 
proprietorship* 

"Let it be as soon as possible, my dear," he said, in a tone that 
was half lover-like^ half fatherly ; " the antomn will soon be upon 
us, and I should like to spend September in Paris. I am alwayy 
glad to get away from the falling leaves/' 

Palis seemed a name of enchantment, to this nntrayelled 
girl. Not Damascus, Bassora, or Bagdad — no city she had 
ever read of in the Ambian Nights — could have more the sound 
of a fairy tale. . . 

. "I should like to see Paris," she said, forgetting her tardy 
remorse. 

"We will spend our honeymoon there, love I" replied the 
baronet, who had made up his mind about it before ha came tc 
woo. It would be an inezpendive honeymoon. Lodgment in his 
entresol would cost him nothing. There would.onlv be ebme 
slight difference in the terms of his contract wkih m^inrait&u/r 
wno supplied his table. •". ' •.'.. 

** Your father agrees with me that there is no motive for delay, 
except for the brief time you may require to have two or three 
dresses made," said Sir Aubrey. " We will be married very 
quietly in yonder church some morning, before any of the village 
gossips have had time to discover our mtention." 

" That will be nice," said Sylvia, somewhat Ustlessly, " but I 
should have liked a few months* delay." 

"A few months I What for?" 

The question was embarrassing. 

"How can you be sure that you really eare for me — thatyoui 
regard for me is anything more than a passing fancy P " she 
faltered after a pause. . 

"I have no doubt as to rn/y feelings," replied Sir Aubrey, 
with offended dignity; "perhaps it is you who are doubtful 
about yours." : ^ 

. "No, indeed I" cried Sylvia quickly. Not for worlds must 
shd offend him. Waa not the die east P She might keep back 
her letter to Edmund, which was hot yet posted, but she could 
not undo her interview with Mrs. Stanaen. The next mail 
would doubtless carry a full account of that interview to her 
lover. And was it likely he would forgive her for having re* 

I'ected his mother's offered friendship— for having renounce/ 
lim deliberately in the very hour of his mother's relenting P 
Sylvia felt that Edmund waa lost to her, and that there was 
nothing for her between marriage with Sir Aubrey and igno- 
minious downfall. 

Eeflection showed her that. h6r own interest demanded a speedy 
marriage. What wouldrlie her position if Bdmund came baoi 
and deiiamicod lier? Hie might be cruel enoTigh to tell Sir 



160 Sbien ai the Flood. 

Aubrey how fondly she liad loved him ; -with what ofb^repeated 
vows she had sworn to be true. What might not a betrayed 
lover do to proclaim her baseness P The best possible shelter 
would be Sir Aubrey's name. No one would ozxe to assail or 
insult Sir Aubrey Ferriam's wife. 

" Gome, Svlvia," said the baronet tenderly, •* if you love me so 
little you will not ask for delay. It is in your power to make 
my life very happy. Why should not my happiness begin as 
soon as it can P Kemembier, my sweet one, when you accepted 
my offer the other night you linked your life with mine. 
You can hardly imlink it again, unless you really repent your 
promise." 

" No, no. I do not repent. I am honoured, proud, happy, 
in the knowled^ of your love.** 

"Then we will be married this day month," said Sir Aubrey* 
sealing the bond with a courteous kiss. 

Sylvia made no objection. It is not for the beggar girl to 
dictate to King Oophetua. 



i 



OHAPTBB XXVL 

ME. BAIN PLEADS THE CAUSE OF THE WIDOIT. 

SiK AxjBEET, always an early riser, breakfasted a little earlier 
than usual on the morning after his interview with Sylvia, luifl 
mounted his favourite SpHnter directly after breakfast, to ride 
into Monkhampton. The day was duU and cloudy, and the 
landscape had not its usual smile as he walked his horse along 
the hilly road between Ferriam and the market town. 

Bather a quiet place, Monkhampton, at this hour of the 
morning. There were two or three sleek vestrymen lounging 
near the door of that uninviting building the V estry Hall, dis- 
puting about sewer rates, and the advisability or non-advisability 
of an additional twopence in the pound, lately a point of discus- 
sion. The bells were ringing for a week-day service, and a few 
respectable matrons and a sprinkling of young ladies might be 
seen wending their way to tCe parish church; but commerce 
seemed to be hardly awake in Monkhampton at a quarter-past 
ten in the morning. 

Sir Aubrey drew rein at a house near the beginning of the 
High-street, in a neighbourhood where the town touched the 
border of the country, and where the houses boasted larger gar- 
dens than in the heart of Monkhampton. The house befoie 



Mr. Bain pleads the Cause of the Widow. 161 

wliicli tlie baronet stopped was strong, and solid, and sqnare, 
and respectable — a bonse wbicb insolvency conld never bave 
tnbabited, one migbt fancy, so boldly did it stare tbe world in 
tbe face — so aggressive was tbe look of its tall iron railings. It 
was built of duU, yellow bricks, picked out witb red, and bad 
tbree rows of windows, five in a row on the two npper floors* 
t^fo on each side of the ball door. The steps were as white as 
hearthstone conld make them ; the windows as bright as if they 
had been cleaned that morning, but no flower-pot, no birdcage, 
no frivolity of any kind decorated those windows. The two on 
the left of the door were draped with crimson curtains of a 
substantial moreen, that assumed the stiflest, straightest folds 
possible to a textile fabric; the windows on the right were 
screened as to the lower panes by wire blinds, stem barriers 
against the pr3ring gaze of passers-by, blinds which said as plain 
as words could speak, '* We guard the sanctity of a lawyer's 
pffice." 

On the large brass plate, which gave additional dignity to the 
8tout oak street door, appeared the following inscription :-* 

Mr. Shadrach Bain, 

Solicitor and Land Agent. 

Sir Aubrey gave Splinter to his groom, turned the brazen 
handle of Mr. Bain's door, and went in without further cere- 
mony. 

The houses in Monkhampton were, as a rule, thus accessible 
to the public, and Sir Aubrey was familiar with the habits of 
his agent. The door on the right of the entrance had the word 
** Office " painted on its panels, in severe-looking black letters. 
This door Sir Aubrey opened, and confronted his land steward, 
who was seated at a desk opposite the door, plodding through a 
lease with a pencil in his mouth, ready to take note of any flaw 
in the agreement. 

Shadrach Bain was a man of that doubtful and indefinite 
age which is sometimes called the prime of life. Time had au 
yet traced no wrinkle on the land steward's brow, amply pro- 
vided with those organs of calculation and perception wnich 
assist the pursuit of gain. His hard gray eyes had the clear 
brightness of perfect health; his dark brown hair still thickly 
thatched his head ; his complexion had a ruddy brownness, not 
unpleasant to the eye — a hue that told of long rides in the fresh 
morning air rather than of the midnight lamp. He was tall, 
broad-shouldered, well-built, and, like the Miltonian Satan, 
stood like a tower among his fellow men. He dressed well, but 
eoltivated rather the outward aspect of a small squire than the 
iom re attire of the learned professions. He lised, when he 
«v8ut a litUe beyond his own beiit, to be hailed aa " ^o^^^^ \s^ 



162 Taken at the Flood. 

railway porters and the oommonaltj. He had bnshj iSu^va 
whiskers, a close^shaved lip and ehm» wore a suit of heather 
tweed, a bine cravat, and a plaited leatiier watch-ohain. 

He rose briskly at sig^ht of his patron, wheeled forward did 
one oomfortable chair of the office, and shut a door which ^>m- 
mnnicated with an inner room, whence the scratching os ^e 
clerks' pens had been andible as the baronet entered. 

" This is an nnezpected honour. Sir Anbre^r," he said n a 
etaeery tone, as the baronet shook hands with mm. Sir Audrey 
did not always greet his agent so warmly — there were times 
when he appeared to consider a friendly nod sufficient, and Mr. 
Bain liever mvited more familiarity than his patron offered. He 
took condescensions from Sir Anbrey as wise heathens took <ihe 
gifts of the gods. Bat to-day his employer was more tjaan 
commonly cordial, and Mr. Bain angured that there was sinne- 
thing in the wind. ** I breakfast at seven all the year romid," 
said Mr. Bain, as his visitor settled himself in the arm-chair ; 
"but one doesn't expect to see you in Monkhampton Wore 



noon." 



<( 



I came early because I've something rather particular to say 
to you. Bain," answered the baronet, playing with the tassel of 
his riding whip. " I don't suppose it 11 surprise you, for it was 
a thing te be anticipated socmer or later. !ror although a jjian 
has come to — ahem — between fifty and sixty— there's no neoes- 
sity for him to spend all his days in solitude." 

Shadrach Bain dropped his pencil^ and looked at his employer 
steadily with those penetrating eyes of his — ^those gray )rbs 
which, with little expression except keenness, seem to nave more 
seeing power than any other eyes. Mr. Bain began to wonder 
if the baronet might not be just a little weak in his head, like 
Mordred, who was popularly supposed to be not quite rational. 
His mind was beginnmg to fail, perhaps, poor old gentieman, 
and he was thinking of going into a nionastery, or turning 
I'lymouth BrotHer 

*' Til :»»*>. ..♦t'liu'L be nmch rolitude at Perriam, Sir Aubrey,*' 
said y- FJaiii. " People would te glad enough to come and see 
you if yoii asked them. Though I don't say but what hospi* 
talit>, or keeping open bonne, as people call it, woidd msike 
away with no end of money ; money which would be better 
employed in enlarspn? ihe estate, as Sir Andrew did before you. 
There s the Con>l>i" rarr/* nitiet come into the market when old 
Parker dies — it yAh?. ouv land at Wapshot, you know. Sir 
Anbrey — and w/^«;lii t«e a very nice addition to your prcroeriy." 

" We'll talk abtiiit Combe whex? it is in the market,'' replied 
Sir Aubrey, with i touch of oSenJied dignity. He thonglu lus 
■teward ought to Viave been quicker to understand him. '^.V un 
not talking of oounty society. Of course I could fill roy ~ 



Mr. Sain pted^ t%e Oauee of. the Widow. 168 

with people if I chose,' and, aa yon say, sqnander a great deal of 
money npon visitors who wonld hardly thank' me for my hospit 
tality. But I don't at all desire society of that kind. When 1 
spoke just now of solitude, I meant the solitude of a bachelor. 
The only companionship I ^ish for is that of a wife I coxdd loTa*| 

The baronet pronounced the last word reluctantly. No girl 
of seventeen could have uttered the portentous syllable mdr6 
coyly. ^ - . ' .' 

Mr. Bain's countenance changed not at this announcement. 
Very early in life had Mr. Bain brought his facial muscles' into 
complete subjection. They were too well trained to betray him. 
But his broad, strong hand gripped the rail of his chair with a 
somewhat savage grasp. Tne hand waa behind his back, and 
Sir Aubrey could not see the action*. 

" You have some idea of marrying? " said Mr. Bain, with a 
smile, that cold smile which comes and goes at the bidding of 
the smiler, chill as wintry sunlight. ^ 

** I have more than an idea, Shadrach. I am going to be 
married on the twentieth of August." 

" Next August ? " ; ; 

" Of course. Do you suppose I'm going to put my wedding 
off for a year. What need I wait for? ■' 

"Nothing, certainly-as regards pecuniary arrangements. 
But this seems uncommonly sudden. You have known the 
lady a long time no doubt." 

" I have known her long enough to love her," 

** Should I be impertinent if I asked who she is P " • v " 

'' Not at all. I came this morning to arrange the question* of 
a settlement. But you understand. Bain, that what a man tells 
ids solicitor is sacred." 

" Of course." * 

" The fact is I don't want any one in Monkhampton to know 
that I'm going to be married. I don't want the affair to be so 
much as suspected till a/a all over. I hate talk and fuss, and 
to be stared at or whispered about. No doubt people willrbo 
surprised at my marriage; but they can have their nil of shut? 
prise while I am away for my honeymoon, and get accustomed 
to the fact before I come back." 

"There is hardly any occasion for surprise. Sir. Aubrey, except 
at the suddenness of the business," said Mr. Baiu, with his nuMit 
deferential air. "The match is a suitable one, no doubt." ' 

" I'll trouble you to reserve your doubts and your speculations 
kill you know au about it," resumed the baronet testily. "The 
jiatch is not what society maj call suitable. The match is what 
the world generally ridicules m young or old — a love niatch.. Ths 
young lad^ — a lady in everytning except position-^a beneath 
me in station.!* 



IM Hiiien at the Flood. 

^Old idiot! He liaa fallen in love with some pretty botifle* 
maid, or a circas rider, or a FrencH actress," thought Mr. Bain, 
not yet relaxing his grasp of the chair rail. 

**The young lady is the only daughter of Mr. Carew, the 
parish schoolmaster at Hedingham," said Sir Aubrey. 

** The parish schoolmaster's daughter ! Why, that's the young 
lady whom young Standen was sweet upon. My daughter 
Matilda Jane he^ something about it at the Hedingham 
Fancy Fair." 

" I beff leave to suggest that * sweet ujwn ' is not a phrase I 
eare to hear in relation to my future wife," remonstrated the 
baronet stiffly. '* I am fully aware that Mr. Standen wished to 
mar^ Miss Carew, and was rejected by her father." 

''He rejected Edmund Standen, of Dean House! That's 
curious. However, if the young lady was engaged to you, Sir 
Aubrey, that explains matters." 

** She was not engaged to me at the time of Mr. Standen's 
pro^saL That young man's offer was rejected on its own 
merits." 

"Indeed. Well, I hope my daughters may be as lucky when 
iheir time comes." 

" You are perhaps not aware that Miss Carew is a young lady 
of exceptional beauty," said Sir Aubrey with ever-increasing 
vtiffness; "a lady who mi^ht have won the affections of a 
gentleman of even more exited position than my own." 

** She is very young, I suppose P " 

** Between nineteen and twenty." 

" I should have thought, whatever the merits of the lady, a 
somewhat longer engagement would have been advisable. Of 
course, I don't presume to offer mjr advice. Sir Aubrey." 

" Sir," returned the baronet, with a freezing look, " this ia a 
matter in which I ask advice from no man." 

Mr. Bain murmured an apology. Sir Aubrey recovered his 
temper. He felt elated even, for he felt that he had put down 
Mr. Bain. He had come to that office not without trepidation, 
had felt himself blushing as he rode along the empty lanes, and 
he was glad to think that he had been able to assert himself 
thus boldly. 

"Now, with regard to the settlement," he said, with his usual 
friendliness of manner, " I have come to the determination to 
%etXLQ nothing upon my wife during my lifetime. ^ If her affec* 
tion for me be as sincere as I venture to consider it, she will be 
content to owe all to my bounty. She will not want to squander 
my money. To settle an income upon her for her own separate 
iiie wonla be in a manner to instil extravagance." 

** True, Sir Aubrey," said Mr. Bain with approval, " but in 
that case I don't see that yon want a settlement at alL" 



Itr. Bain pleads the Cause of tie Widow* 168 

^ Yon forget the disparity of years between Miss Carew and 
myself. I am bonnd to provide for her after my death." 

«* Yon could do that by will." 

** Certainly. But I prefer to make her fntnre secnre by an 
immediate settlement. I gratify myself by leaving her depen- 
dent npon my liberality so long as I live, bnt I wish to shcnr 
myself capable of generositv " 

'* After death," said Mr. Bain, finishing the sentence. 

" My wife will look to me for all she needs, bnt I shall amply 

Erovide for the independence of mr widow," returned the 
aronet. 

" I understand. Then we have on^y to settle what portion of 
yonr estate you will charge with this provision. You would be 
abU to leave Lady Perriam — ^how much P " 

**I have been thinking that two thousand a year " said 

Sir Aubrey meditatively, 

** A poor provision for a lady accustomed to the occupation of 
Perriam." 

'* I do not spend more than four thousand at Perriam." 

" Perhaps not — but after yoT;r marriage things will be diffe- 
rent. Where you now spend four thousand, I daresay you'll 
spend ten." 

Sir Aubrey shook his head. 

" I beg your pardon," he said. " There will be no difference. 
A man doesn't change his habits after fifty. Were I to many 
a fashionable young woman — accustomed to the dissipations 
of the London season — I might be expected to alter my mode 
of living — to launch out in some absurd manner — re-furnish 
Perriam with your tawdry modem rubbish — set up a house in 
town — and so on. But I marry a young lady who has no pre- 
tensions — who is simply the lovehest girl I ever saw — a violet 
which hides itself in the shelter of its leaves — as somebody once 
remarked of some one else. What Perriam has been in the 
past, Perriam will continue to be in the future — until it passes 
to its next possessor." 

*' 7our son, perhaps,** sug^sted Mr. Bain, who had been 
thiiiking profoundly while Sir Aubrey expoxmded his views. 
That strong Saxon face looked almost handsome when the man 
thought. There was such strength of purpose in it. The clear» 
gray eyes clouded, as the man's gaze — no longer penetrating the 
surface of actual tlungs — surveyed those impalpable shadows 
which make the vision of things to be. 

"My son. If Grod blesses me with children,** replied Sir 
Aubrey reverently. 

" I don't think two thousand is enough for a man in yoor 
position to leave his widow," said Mr. Bain presently. 

He was to some extent a privileged pexBOs^ «^^ ^rpqS^ ^s^Rnk. 



166 Tal^en at the Flood. 

A6 plainlj as lie chose to Sir Anbrej. He had frequent ocoasiov 
to demonstrate that he knew the baronet's interests a great 
deal better than the baronet himself understood them, axtd had 
thns acqnired a certain empire over the weaker brain of hi^ 
employer. 

*'Two thousand a year is a lar&^e. income for Mr. Oarew'0 
daughter," said Sir Aubrey thoughtrally. 

" But » paltry pittance for Sir Aubrey Perriam's ■ widow,** 
returned the other. ** Why should you stint this lady P You 
Jove her; and if she brings you no children, all you do not leave 
to her will go to your distant relative — a man for whom you 
don't care two straws." 

" Not one," said Sir Aubrey. 

"The bulk of the estate is entailed, and must go' to Mr. 
^orace Perriam — after your brother's death that is to say — and 
his life is not so good as your own. Bat there's a large remainder 
that is not in the entail — all the land bought by Sir Andrew, 
and the Warren estate, which you inherited from your mother. 
Why not act handsomely towards this lady in the matter of a 
future provision? Why not leave her. five thousand a year, 
phargeable on the Warren estate and on the Felldrake and the 
Coppice farms P " 

Sir Aubrey opened his eyes in a blank stare. He had expected 
fill kinds of opposition from Shadrach Bain, and most of all had 
h^ expected to oe opposed in the matter of the settlement, and 
here was Shadrach Bain pleading the cause of the future Lady 
Perriam, a person he had ^eyer seen, if his own statement were 
to be trusted. 

"Five thousand a year for a schoolmaster*s daughter," said 
the baronet feebly. 

•* Five thousand a year for Lady Perriam," replied the steward. 
^*If she is worthy of your confidence and your affection, she is 
worthy of your liberality. Most men in my position would look 
^t this question from the solicitor's point of view, and counsel 
meanness. I recommend liberality. If you have no children, 
ptrangers — orth^ofle who .are no nearer to you than strangers — 
yf%Y[ come after you. Why should you pinch the wife of your 
choice to fatten strangers P You cannot be too generous to 
J^y Perriam— after your death." 

"True," murmured Sir. Aubrey, impressed by this mode of 
^rgument^ " I shall be none the poorer. It will make no differ^* 
ence to me m ixy grave whether she has two thousand or five 
fhpusand. But, if ihe dead are capable of thinking about the 
world they leave behind them, it would vex. me to think that 
PoKaoe Periiam ha4 everything.'* 

*' Of course it wo;nldl , Shall I draw up a draft of thb deed (^ 
•ottleni6Dt» ondbniig it, to P^r^iam. Pl^e this evening," 



Mr, Bain pleads the Cause of the Widow. 167 

** Yes, bring it tMs evening. Mr. Carew and his danghter are 
to dine with me, by the way. Don't say anything about it 
before them. T might change my mind as to the amount. 
After all, it would be always in my power to provide for my 
widow by will. The settlement is only a matter of form, to' 
satisfy the father, who no doubt wants to see his daughter's 
future secured.*' 

" If you doubt the lady, make no settlement," said Mr. Bain 
decisively. ** If you believe in her, make her a handsome one." 

" Believe in her!" cried the baronet, flashing out indignantly; 
** do you suppose I should marry her if I did not believe her to 
be all that is good and pure and high-minded? " 

" You have known her so short a time ! " 

** Sir, there are intuitions," exclaimed Sir Aubrey solemnly. 

" Then settle the five thousand, and back your opinion, as the 
racing men say." 

" So be it— draw up the drafts and let me have it for considera- 
tion. There will be plenty of time for execution between this 
and the marriage. Oh, by-the-bye there's one document you 
can make as plain and brief as you please — an agreement pro- 
mising to pay Mr. James Carew a hundred a year, in Quarterly 
instalments, during the remainder of his life. I can't have my 
father-in-law a parish schoolmaster. I give him a maintenance 
which will support him in comfort and decency for the rest of his 
days. Perhaps you'll ask me to make it five hundred," added 
the baronet, with some asperi^. 

" No, Sir Aubrey. A hundred a year for the father I oonsidei 
ample. I hope I have jiot offended by my regard for the inter- 
ests of the future Lady Perriam." 

" No, Bain. You're a good fellow, I know, and devoted to' 
your employer, as your father was before you. I like you for 
taking Miss Carew s part. I'm obliged to you. I thought you 
would have echoed that parrot-cry about disparity of years, 
nnsuitability of tempers, and so on. I like you for taking my 
future wife's "part against me. Why should the heir-at-law get 
more than he is strictly entitled to P He'll get the benefit of all 
my father's improvements on the estate proper — Gad — he 
shall have not an aore of the land we've added. I'll settle ^ve 
thousand on Sylvia, and I daresay I shall leave her a good deal 
more if she makes me as ^ood a wife as I believe she will. 
Good-day, Bain, you may as well come to dinner, by the way- 
come at six, and we shall have an hour for going through the 
settlemente before the Carews arrive." 

Mr. Bain professed himself happy to obey any commands of 
Sir Aubrey. He generally dined at Perriam once or twice a 
/ear, when there was some odd bit of land in the market, or 
some important lease to be renewed. The ixmta.Uoix^^^i^TxsA^* 



168 Taken at tie Flood. 

ftood to be a oon^esoenBion on Sir Anbrey'B jart, despite Mr. 
Bain's professional statns and legal right to the title of gentle- 
man. Mrs. Bain had never been invit^ with her hnsband, and 
in Mrs. Bain's particular circle the baronet was set down as a 
prond man. , 

" He wouldn't have the income he has if it wasn't for Bain,** 
the lady woald observe to her gossips. " bnthe hasn't a spark of 
cratitnde in his nature. He'll take off his hat to me in mj own 
hall as politely as a Sir Chesterfield Walpole, but never so muck 
as OT>en his lips to wish me good momin|7' 

Mr. Bain accompanied his employer into the street, and stood 
on the pavement while Sir Aubrey mounted Splinter, whose 
■leek neck Mr. Bain patted approvingly. 

" I wish I could get such a norse as that, Sir Aubrey ; I'm 
generally pretty fortunate in horse-flesh, but I never met with 
anything to match him." 

Sir Aubrey smiled, and bent over Splinter affectionately. 

" Six o'clock, Bain," he said. 

" Six o'clock. Sir Aubrey ;" and Sir Aubrey shook his rein, 
and rode gailjr down the Hi^h-street, pleased with the easy 
manitv^r in which Shadrach Bam had taken the announcement 
of his marriage* 



OHAPTEB XXVil. 

THE STEWABD IN THE BOSOM OF HIS FAIOLT* 

Mb. BA.IN went back to his office, seated himself at his desk, and 
gave himself up to dee{>est thought. It was not often that Mr. 
Bain thought. His active prosperous life was too busy to allow 
much margin for meditation. sSo twilight hour did Mr. Bain 
waste on those waking dreams in which some men let their 
fancies wander, pleased with shadows ; nor did sad retrospective 
musings, tender memories of days that were gone, ever beguile 
Mr. Bain into for^etfulness of the present. He was a man who 
lived essentially m the life of to-day. The business in hand, 
however petty, was the supreme business of his existence. He 
brought all his forces into life's daily battle ; and it was perhaps 
on this acoountfi that no one ever took him at a disadvantage. 

But when Shadrach Bain did think, he thought with Si his 
might. See him now, elbows planted on his desk, chin set firmlr 
on nis clasped hands, and you see a man with whom thought is 
the impalpable scaffolding of a substantial edifice. The man 
doe« not think only— he builds. The constructive faculty-^ 



The Steward in the bosom of hie Family, 109 

strongest organ in that strong brain — ^is hard at work. The 
dosely knit brows denote that the architectural design in hand 
jnst now is complicated — ^there are difficulties even. For some 
time the thing seems impossible ; then the keen eyes take a more 
resolute look, the firm hps tighten, and now relax into a slow 
smile. The difficulties are conquered, the airy scaffolding stands 
firm ; he nees it perfect in every an^le, and the smile becomes 
almost triumphant. The plan of his future edifice is complete. 

** Take thy bill and sit down quickly and write fifty," repeated 
Mr. Bain, in a musing tone. *' I think I have made fnendB with 
the mammon of unrighteousness this morning." 

It was some time before Sir Aubrey's land steward settled to 
his daily work in his usual brisk manner. He opened a hand* 
some japanned case on which were painted the magical words — 
Perriam Estate — and looked over a number of title-deeds. Some 
he threw on his left hand, and others on his right, until the 
parchments made two separate heaps. 

On one of these he laid his hand firmly. 

'* All these my father and I added to the estate," he said to 
himself. And it seemed to him that Sir Andrew and his son 
Sir Aubrey, were as ciphers when weighed in the balance with 
his father and himself. 

"Why not five thousand a yearP" he mused. "Why not 
seven P But no doubt Sir Aubrey will leave her all he has to 
leave if she behaves well to him. What could a weak little 
thing like that do to offend him — a parish schoolmaster's 
daughter P I saw her once standing at tne gate of tbe school- 
house garden — a slim, fair-haired girl, with brown eyes. Pretty 
enough, I daresay. But I was driving too fast to take much 
notice. A girl that could be motUded to anything, no doubt. 
There'll be a fine estate by the time she's a widow — a fine inde- 
pendent estate. And if the heir-at-law should turn me out of 
the old property I shall still have my grip upon Perriam." 

Barely had Shadrach Bain spent so much time upon medita* 
tion — ^upon thought which soared out of the narrow circle o/ 
the present into the wide cloudland of the future — as he spent 
this morning. He had no actual work, no file of sharp, short, 
decisive letters ready for the copying machine, to show for his 
departed morniug when the brazen tongue of the family bell 
gave note of the one o'clock dinner. He started up from hit 
chair with a surprised look, and made haste to wash his handl 
at the well*appomted lavatory in a little room beyond the ckirka' 
office. 

It was an established rule in Monkhampton — strict as JewisL 
law — ^that the middle classes, the mmple respectable people, who 
prided themselves on their simplicity and respectabiuty, should 
dine at one o'clock. However laggard appetite xca^^ \^«*C&&. 



ITOF Taken ae the Flood. 

family board was spniad with plain snbstantial fare at tbai 
partiiDiilar hour. Families who nnngered after fashion, or even 
what was called gentility, might dme later if they pleased — 
might have an nntidy scrambling meal in the middle of the day 
called luncheon, and an early supper at seven — disguised under 
the name of dinner, and call that fashion. By so doing they 
ent themselves off from those prouder burghers who clung tena* 
eionsly to the manners and customs of their forefathers. Mr. 
Bain was of the old school, and, though there had been vague 
half-expressed aspirations on the part of his daughters for late 
dinners and equestrian exercise, those yearnings had been stifled 
in the birth. Neither Matilda Jane nor Clara Louisa had dared 
to give them utterance in their father's hearing. 

The dining-room — that apartment whose crimson moreen 
curtains were visible from the street — was a comfortable square 
room, with panelled walls, painted and grained, in the semblance 
of dark oak, and graced with family portraiture, in which the 
high waists and floral head-gear, the buff waistcoats, ponderous 
watch chains, and formidable shirt frills of the George and 
William period were preserved in effigy for the gratification of 
posterity. The furniture was of the same era, and was a& solid 
as it was ugly. The silver of the neatly laid dinner-table waa 
of the Puritanic fiddle pattern ; the Delft dinner service was of 
honest willow — but a superior willow, relieved about the rims 
and handles of vegetable dishes and soup tureens with a little 
gilding. The damask napery was of spotless purity. Every- 
thing mdicated that honest middle-class prosperity which follows 
not the changes of fashion — ^housekeeping which goes on to-day 
exactly as it was begun twenty years ago. 

Had Mr. Bain' been of an epicurean temper, he might have 
made some murmur against the placid monotony of his daily 
fare. The endless procession of legs of mutton and wing ribs of 
beef, varied occasionally by a roast of pork, a Sabbath fillet of 
veal, a Michaelmas goose, a Saturday beef-steak pie. But, if 
not altogether an intellectual man, Mr. Bain was certainly not 
a slave to his senses, and provided he ate when he was hung^ 
cared but little with what viands he was fed. The joint was 
well cooked and cleanly served, the potatoes were well boiled, 
and the cook had her gamut of substantial old English puddings 
with which to embellish the meal. Pudding every other day 
was the rule of the Bain honsehold. They could quite as well 
have afforded themselves pudding every day, but Mrs. Bain, who 
looked at life from a pious standpoint, considered daily pudding 
a pampering of the nesh. There was always a blank look upon 
the faces of the younger members on off-days, and Mrs. Bain felt 
that those lenten deprivations all the year round were a blessing 
to her offspring. A provident wife and a thoughtful mother of 



The Steward in the hosom ofhisjamily. I7I 

the old Fnritan type this Mrs. Bain, and her husband felt that 
in Louisa Dawker he had secured a treasure, even putting her 
six thousand pounds out of the question. Unhappily, for tlK 
last three years, Mrs. Bain had been more or less of an invalid 
— obHged to wear a respirator all the winter — ^unable to go out 
of doors after sunset, even in summer, keeping her bed at times,. 
and suffering much from complicated ailments of liings and 
throat, which, as the family doctor had whispered, must some 
day prove feital, but bearing up bravely through all, and keeping 
her liusband's house vigiEmtly even when Slness made her a 
prisoner in her bedroom. Summer was a kindly season for Mrs. 
Bain, and while the warm weather lasted she seemed tolerably 
bvsk, and took her seat at the head of the table, and carved the 
joint for the seven healthy sons and daughters, Mr. Bain not 
caring to be troubled by the wants of these yonn^ ravens. He. 
liked to review his morning's work and plan his afternoon's 
labours as he eat his dinner. 

Mrs. Bain was a small pale woman, with an honest, intelligent 
face, and dark eyes that had a pleasant softness in them. She 
had never been pretty, and failing health had now s^ the stamp 
of decay on her palhd countenance ; but she looked what she 
was — a good woman. Her children loved her, despite her some- 
what Puritan rule, which exacted a good deal of self-denial 
from these young people, and her husband respected her. 

To-day tne head of the household ate with less than his usual 
healthy appetite. So languidly indeed did Mr. Bain ply his knife 
and fbrk as to draw upon himself the notice of his mmily. 

" Aren't you well, father P " asked Matilda Jane, ' the eldest 
daughter, "you're hardly eating anything." 

"I hope the beef isn't too much done fdr you, father," said 
the house-mother with affectionate solicitude. " I always tells 
Betsy to do it with the gravy in. And it's a very fine wing rih 
to-day. The joint weighed fifteen pounds eleven ounces. I saw 
it in the scale myself." . 

"The beef 's very good, mother, but I've not much of an 
i^petitCr and this is only to be my luncheon. I'm to dine with 
Snr Aubrey at seven." 

" Another lease, I suppose?'' 

" Something in that way," replied Shadrach. 

"I heard Sir Aubrey's horse stop before our door while 
I was in the kitchen ta&in^ to cook," said Mrs. Bain, " and I 
thought it must be something particular to bring him here so 
early." 

"It was lome rather important business," replied the lawyw. 

The family evinced no curiosity* Leases, and smaU purchases 
of land, alterations, improvements, drainage, wac^ bits <^ 
^proand reclaimed, were not subjects to enga^ ^<^ \s^jst»i^ ^ 



i 



172 Taken at the Flood. 

the female mind. Mr. Bain's sons were too yonng to sympa- 
thize with his industry. Their minds were absorbed by fbotbaU 
crioket, and the fonrtn book of the ^neid. No one qnestionei 
him further abont Sir Aubrey's visit. 

"You were at Hedingham Fancy Fair, you two girls, weren't 
you P " asked Mr. Bain presently. 

" Yes, father," replied the elder. " Mrs. Thomas Toynbee asked 
U8 to go with her daughters. The Toynbees are Gl^urch of 
England people, you know, and Mr. Thomas Toynbee is first 
cousin to Mr. Toynbee of Hedingham, the rich manufacturer. 
Mother said we might go — she thought . you wouldn't mind for 
once in a way, though Siejr're not chapel people." 

"I've no objection," said Mr. Bain. "Did you see Miss^— 
Miss Oarew, I think it is — the schoolmaster's daughter, while 
you were there P " 

"Yes, father. We went into the orchard to see the children 
at tea, and she was there." 

" A very pretty girl, isn't she P " inquired Mr. Bain« 

His daughters looked at each other and deliberated. 

" That's a matter of taste, father," said Clara Louisa. 

" She's not my style of beauty," said Matilda Jane. 

"But, I suppose, some people admire her," added Clara 
Louisa, " for it is the common talk that Mr. Standen, of Dean 
Ru«se, is in love with her, and is most likely to marry her, if 
his mother doesn't interfere to prevent him." 

" Do you know anything about this Miss Garew P You've 
heard people talk about her, it seems. ELave you ever heard 
what kmd of a girl she is P " 

"Lor, no, father; you don't suppose I know anybody who 
knows herP A parish schoolmaster's daughter! The Miss 
Toynbees of Hedingham teach in the Sunday-school sometimes» 
and they told their cousins that they considered Sylvia Carew 
excessively vain, and very much above her station in all her 
notions ; a girl who wanted setting down. That's what the Miss 
Toynbees said." 

" Humph," said Mr. Bain ; " that's what the Miss Toynbees 
said, is it P " And then within himself he reflected that perhaps 
it would be Sylvia's privilege to set down the Miss Toynbees, 
rather than to be set down by them. 

Not a hint of Sir Aubrey's marriage did Shadrach Bain give 
to his family circle. Sir Aubrey had announced that event to 
him in the strictest confidence, and the agent showed himself 
worthy of the trust. 

He was hardly up to his usual standard of mental activity all 
that afternoon. This business of Sir Aubrey's marriage was too 
startling to be easily sput out of his mind. He wrote letXers* 
looked over the rent oook, saw two or three Monkhamptcm 



The Steward in the hosom of his Vaniily^ 173 

olients, and got throngh liis work tolerably well, but his mind 
was only half in it. He was glad when it was time to order 
the dog-oart for his drive to Perriam, glad to tarn his back 
upon i£e common work of the office, and go up bo his own room 
to dress. 

He looked as good a gentleman as the best in Monkhampton 
when he came downstairs at a quarter-past five, clad in a suit of 
plainest black, with neat boots, slender watch-chain, faultless 
shirt-front of unadorned linen — clean — ^well brushed — a model 
country gentleman. Thus attired, his family looked up to him 
with reverential admiration. 

" How well you would look in the pulpit, father, dressed like 
that ! " said Matilda Jane. 

Mr. Bain smiled as he adjusted his neckcloth before the 
looking-glass over the dining-room chimney-piece, while his 
admiring family sat round the table taking their tea. 

** How much better I should look in the House of Commons," 
he said to himself, not ill-pleased with his own image in the 
glass : " and who knows what may happen, if I keep my grip 
upon the Perriam property P *' 

'* Do you think you sliall be late, Shadrach P " asked Mrs. 
Bain meeklv. There was no such thing as a latchkej in the 
Bain household. The head of the family was all sobriety and 
steadiness. But he was the undisputed master of his ways, and 
if he chose, for some wise purpose of his own, to stay out late 
nobody would question his right. 

" No, my dear; Sir Aubrey never sits up late, as you know." 

** I thought there might be a party, Shadrach." 

" Party F" cried Mr. Bain, "as if Sir Aubrey ever asked me 
to his parties, or ever gave any, for the matt^ of that. What 
could put such a notion into your head, Louisa P " 

" I don't know," answered Mrs. Bain. " You've dressed more 
particularly than usual. That's the last new suit Frazer sent 
jroQ home, isn't it P You said you shouldn't begin to wear it 
just yet." 

" The old one's an uncomfortable fit. Besides, what's the use 
of having good clothes lying hidden in a chest of drawers P 
There's the trap P Gkx>d-bye, Louisa ; good-bye, girls and boys." 



CHAPTEE XXVIIL 

THIS TH&SSHOLD 07 VATB. 



The dinner at Perriam Place was a very quiet business. Mr. 
Garaw and his daughter found the dtawiiL^-TQcyccL «ck\^ ^ft^ 



I 



ITi Taien at He Flood. 

human life when they entered it a few moments before 06vdil« 
^l^iat vast apartment, with its massive but somewhat scanty 
fhmitnre, had a melancholy look in the evening Hght. The 
dze and grandeur of the room seemed to cry alond for people to 
inhabit it. Mr. Carew, who, like all self-indulgent people, was 
easily affected bj external influences, gave a faintr shudder as his 
gaze wandered round the spacious, lofty saloon. 

•* A fine room," he said, " but rather dismal/' Sylvia looked 
about her curiously. She was glad of the opportunity to exa- 
mine these, splendours. On her previous visit the room had 
been at first half in shadow, and then but dimly lighted by 
solitary lamps and candles, and the master of the house had 
been present. Any inspection of the apartment had been 
therefore impossible. To-day she was able to take a deliberate 
survey — and to-day she contemplated the room with a new 
feeling. A month hence it would be her very own. She walked 
slowly up and down« looking at the tall china jars, the wire- 
guarded bookcases, the massive sofas, the bare tables. 

** What curious foreign-looking curtains ! " she exclaimed, 
examining the Oriental embroidery. " But tiiey are a good deal 
faded. I think I shall persuade Sir Aubrey to have new ones 
—amber satin would be the thing for this room." 

" I hope you will find Sir Aubrev compliant enough to oblige 
yon," answered her father, rememoering that interview of last 
ni^ht, in which the baronet had appeared to him by no means 
phant. 

" Oh, I am not afraid of that," returned Sylvia, smiling at her 
own image in the tall narrow. .glass between the windows. '* And 
when I am Lady Perriam " — she never said ** when I am. mar- 
laed," but always " when I am Lady Perriam " — ** I shall give 
large parties, and this room will look as it ought to look. Ii*s 
a superb room for parties, isn't it, papa P " 

** No doubt. But I don't fancy Sir Aubrey is a party-giving 
man. People have talkeda good deal about his keeping him- 
self shut up here and hardly seeing anybody." 

" How can you be so stupid, papa P Of course as a bachelor 
Sir Aubrey would CAre very little for company. But it will be 
iifferent when he 13 married. Do you suppose I mean to be 
buried alive when I am Lady Perriam P It would be m^ch 
better for me to marry Edmund if there were any chance of 
that." 

" Of course not, my love," replied her father hastily. " Pray 
don't talk of voung Standen. It is treason against Sir Aubrey 
to remember his insignificant existence." 

Sylvia sighed. The mere mention of her first lover's name 
1i>ro!Ught a flqod of sad memories — ^memories that were sweet as 
imeU ae sad. She thought of the sojumer evenings thej had 



The Threshold of FaU. 173 

8]r)^at together a little.while ago. A kttlewlule] It seemed 
now as if she were divided from that too recent past by the spaca 
of half a lifetime. ' 

*'I feel ten years older since I accepted Sir Aubrey,'! she 
thought, with another sigh. 

The inspection of the saloon had no forther chptm for hec; 
Bhe flung nerself into a. chair by an open wi^dow, a^d sat there 
silent, dejected. Her father looked at her with some concern ; 
not for his daughter's feelings, but for his own chances of that 
promised hundred per annum. 

"If you are gome to give yourself sentimental airs about 
Edmund Standen, the sooner you tell Sir Aubrey the state of 
the case and give up the notion of being Lady Perriam the 
better," said the schoolmaster sternly. He felt that it was no 
time for soft pleading. 

Before Sylvia could answer him the door opened, and Sir 
Aubrey came in, followed by his land steward. 

The baronet crossed the room to greet his betrothed. . Mr. 
Bain walked towards the empty fireplace, at which Mr. Oarew 
had taken his stand. 

" My dear Sylvia, I owe you a hundred apologies," said the 
baronet, after pressing the hand which was somewhat coldly 
offered to him. " I have been detained, talking to Bain, my 
lawyer and agent ; but as our conversation concerned your future 
interests I hope you will forgive me." 

" There is nothing to forgive, Sir Aubrey," answered Sylvia, 
and then in a lower voice she added» ** I have to thank yon fcnr 
your kindness in giving papa the nioney for my troussemi. I 
Know it is not customary, but we are such paupers — ^and I 
cannot refuse your gift." 

Tears, the tears of wounded pride, were in her eyes as- she 
spoke. She had heard so much about trou&Beaux from Mary 
Peter, and she knew that it was always the bride's father who 
provided his daughter's outfit. Hers seemed almost the gift of 
charity. 

*• My dearest, pray do not mention such a trifle. I hope you 
hiid a pleasant drive here." 

" Vary pleasant. How thoughtful it was of you to send the 
carriage I " 

" It will be your own carriage very soon, to order whenever 
you like." 

That was a consoling thought. Those prond tears warn quickly 
dried. 

It would be very nice to spend Sir Aubrey's hundred potmde 
too, although it had been a somewhat humiiliating business to 
accept it. Sylvia meant to devote 4^:^ next day to shoppinff. 
What delight to walk into Qanzbu ) Juid foel thaJL «9cl<^ ^«ss;S^ 



1 



176 Taken at the Flood. 

bay whateve): slie pleased ! She could not imagine het fandei 
soaring beyond the limit of a hundred pounds. 

" By-the-bye," said Sir Aubrey, when they had talked a littla 
about the weather, and about Perriam, whicn the baronet liked 
to hear praised, '* I must introduce my agent» Mr. Bain. A 
Tery useral and estimable person. Se takes the entire manage* 
ment of my estate, takes all trouble off my hands ; so that I 
have nothing to do except receive my rents. Gome here. Bain, 
I want to present you to Miss Oarew." * 

Mr. Bain obeyed the summons. He had seen the slim white- 
xobed figure from a distance, and his keen eye had taken in 
every detail of that ^aceful form. But Sylvia's face had been 
turned away from him, and he saw it now for the first time, in 
the clear soft light of the summer eyenm^. 

He bowed, murmured something indistmct about the honour 
he derived from the introduction, and then stood silently await- 
ing his patron's next address. He looked at Sylvia, but that 
steadfast straightforward look of his told nothing of the man's 
thgughts. 

He was thinking that this girl was lovely enough to bewitch 
a wiser man than Sir Aubrey Perriam, thmkiug even that he, 
Shadrach Bain, had never seen real beauty until to-night, that 
all the pretty youn^ women it had been his advantage to behold 
at divers periods of his existence had been but as images of 
clay compared to this perfect and dehcate porcelain. This pale, 
blossom-like loveliness was a style of beauty he had never met 
with. Those deeply lustrous hazel eyes were as strange to him 
as i^e flora in some newly discovered island of the radfic is 
strange to the botanist. 

But Shadrach Bain was not a man to be deeply moved by 
beauty, however unfamiliar. He wondered and he admired, hut 
no flutter of his strong heart paid tribute to Sylvia's power to 
charm. Had she been his own daughter he could ha^e hardlj 
contemplated her with a more calmly critical eye. 

He was, however, essentially a practical man — a man whi 
looked at everybody from one point of view, and measured evenr- 
tlung by one standard. That standard was self-interest. In 
his prolonged meditations he had made up his mind that Sylvia 
must come into the scheme of his life. Sne might be fit or unfit 
to fill that square in the geometrical plan of nis destiny which 
iie intended her to fill, but if unfit she must be made fit. Upon 
that point Mr. Bain had no doubt. 

Mr. Perriam shuffled into the room presently in his old- 
fisuBhioned dress-coat, and short black trousers of antique cut, 
and white stockings and ancient shoes, with loosely tied ribbons, 
looking like an elderly copy of his brother indifierently executed. 
It was a singular evidence of the unwholesome'&ess of a seden* 



The Threshot t of Fats. ill 

jary and secluded life tliat Mordred Perriam looked ten yearn 
O^der than his elder and more active brother. 

The bntler announced dinner, and they went to the dining^ 
room, Sylvia on Sir Aubrey's arm, Mordred and Mr. Carew side 
by side, talking of books — or raider Mordred talking and th# 
schoolmaster pretending to be interested — Shadrach Bain stalk- 
ing behind them, silent and alone. The butler planted them out 
at the long table, far apart, like young trees on a new estate; 
so remote from one another that conversation had a forced air. 
It was like hailing to somebody on the opposite side of a street. 
Salvia sat next Sir Aubrey, and as the dmner proceeded he con- 
trived to draw his chair a little nearer hers, so that their talk 
should be unheard by the rest. Mr. Bain ate his dinner in 
almost absolute silence. Like a guest at a royal table, he waited 
to be spoken to ; and as no one spoke to him he remained dis- 
creetly mute. Mordred twaddled on unendingly to Mr. Carew. 
Sir Aubrey devoted himself exclusively to his future bride. But 
Mr. Bain ate his dinner and amused himself with his own 
thoughts, and wore the aspect of a contented mind. Now and 
then ne stole a little look at Sylvia ; once or twice he smiled to 
himself— a slow, thoughtful sinile — and that was all. 

The meal itself was good and ample, but scrupulously simple 
— a dinner of the old-fashioned, substantial oraer, not nearly 
so grand as the dinners given by Mrs. Tovnbee, which Sylvia 
had heard described by 'hlLexy Peter, the village gossip— dinners 
which were in preparation for days before l£e festival, and at 
which Monkhampton confectioners came to assist. 

Sylvia admired the handsome old china, with its d^rk reds 
and deep purples and rich gilding — the massive old-fashioned 
silver, a tnfle clumsy, perhaps, but with such a look of long- 
established wealth and state. The room in which they dined 
was sombre, but its very gloom had an air of grandeur. The 
voluminous curtains of darkest crimson velvet were in perfect 
U)ne with the oak panelling ; the wide mantelpiece of dark ^reen 
marble was supported upon clustered columns of white vemless 
stene, with bases and capitals of red porphyry. This, the hand- 
somest object in the room, relieved tne darker hues of the walls 
ind furniture. 

The gentlemen, at Sir Aubrey's suggestion, returned te the 
drawiuff-room with Sylna, and then fSlowed one of those even- 
ings, which irreverent minds distinguish as " slow." Sir Aubrey 
naturallv devoted himself to his betrothed. He showed her the 
rarious but not numerous objects of interest in the saloon ; jold 
fcer the histery of each. How those vases had been sent from 
india by a certain General Perriam, his Great Uncle; how thop^ 
turtains had been worked by Hindoos who squatted on the floec 
«f tlia oonidor outside his dreat Auut'tt ai^^^ixViXscLeic^fi \\v.^^«s2q^»»- 



I 

i 



178 3\iken at the Flood. 

and whc were paid so many pice a day for their labonn. He 
took Sylria to the library, and showed her that apartment, a 
treasury of learnin|r which hardly wore the most attraetive 
ehape. Here, indeed, the severe* muses seemed to frown forbid- 
dingly upon the young student. The lightest book on yonder 
massive carved oak shmves was Spenser's Fairy Queen, and even 
that work of fancy was renderea outwardly repuwive by iti 
oin^ binding. 

. Sir Aubrey showed Sylvia the table at which he was wont to 
write letters and transact his business with Mr. Bain — an old 
oSce desk, covered with well worn leather. 

•*The library is not so pretty as the drawing-room," said 
Sylvia. 

•* No," replied the baronet, " a library is for use. One does 
not expect prettinees in a library/' 

"Are the books very niceP" Sylvia asked timidly. It was 
loo dark for her to read the titles, and she thought those dingy 
volumes might possibly belie their outward show. 

. «« "\^ell, I don t quite know a young lady's idea of niceness in 
books. You like the Sorrows of Werter, by the way, a flimsy, 
sentimental piece of nonsense, which took the world by storm in 
my father's time. There's northing here of the Werter kind — in 
point of fact no works of fiction. There's a fine edition of 
jSolinshed yonder, Froissart's Chronicles, the Mort d' Arthur; 
sermons, from Latimer down to Sejith and Barrow; Milton's 
IVose Works ; RoUin, Hume, and all the best historians." 

"Macaulay and CarlyleP" asked Sylvia, thinking there might 
be something' readable m that way. She liked history as inter- 
pteted by these brilliant and diverse pens; 

^^No. There has been nothing added within the last fifty 
years.- It was my grandfather who completed the library." 

" As if a library could ever be complete," thought Sylvia. 

It was pleasant to imagine the changes she would make in 
this gloomy temple of the learned dead. New curtains of bright 

glowing hue, instead of that black-green velvet, which age acd 
ust had darkened to the colouir of the trunks of mpss-grown 
trees ; a new carpet to replace that worn and faded Turkey* 
where every shade had worn to one neutrality of tint; new 
tables; stands for engravings V new chairs — roomy, luxuriuus, 
covered with crimson morocco, and decorated with crest and 
monogram in gold. She had seen the luxuries of life, we^ it 
but in the upholsterer's window at Monkhampton. 

They went back to the saloon, after making the circuit of the 

lower rooms, the hall, the inusio room, long disused, a spaciouB* 

empty chamber, whose walls gave back sonorous echoes, the 

Vreakfiofit-parlour, theX^te Lady Pmiam's morning room. 

"in show you my brother^ rooms another d^y," said Sit 



The Threshold of Fate. 179 

Aubrey. "^They are on the upper floor. There's not much to 
admire in them except the numoW of his books." 

In the saloon they found Mr. Carew yawning over his empty 
teacup ; Mordred furtively devouring the cataK)gue of a forth* 
coming auction, in last Saturday's AthenoBfu/m; Mr. Bain rnedi* 
t(\tive — altogether a silent party. 

** You seem rather dull/^saia the baronet blandly. " I must 

Sit a piano by-and-bye. It's a pity we haven't one, for Miss 
arew might have given us some music." 

Miss Carew looked about the room, and thought how many 
things it wanted besides a piano to make it thoroughly pleasant. 
That grand old-world air was very well in its way, but Sylvia 
longed for modem luxury as well as antique stateliness It was 
agreeable to contemplate an apartment which reminded one of 
the " Spectator," and Pope's BeHnda; but one could not quite 
ignore the strides which modem invention had made in the art 
of comfort. 

It was a long evening. Devoted as Sir Aubrey was, he had 
not very much to say to nis betrothed. The eyes which delighted 
Mm inspired no eloquence of speech. What he did say to her 
was chiefly about himself. Of books he knew little, save the 
works of Addison, Pope, Swift, Voltaire, and a few more of the 
same period. Of men he knew still less. So he told Silvia mild 
Httie anecdotes of his blameless youth, his revered mother, his 
admirable father, and now and then brouj5;ht forth some inane 
little joke which had been handed down from father to son like 
aabelrloom. 

Sylvia listened — smiled even at the jokelete — but thought 
with a bitter pang of Edmund's swift flowing talk — a good 
deal of it nonsense, perhaps, but always eloquent nonsense 
—talk about poete, playwrights, romancers; talk which 
sparkled often with the orightness of ideas which were not all 
borrowed ; talk which was vigorous with the force and passion 
of youth. 

" I shall never hear him again. I shall never walk with him 
in the dear old lanes at sunset," she said to herself. ** But then I 
shall be Lady Perriam. I shall be mistress of this grand old 
house." 

Splendid as Perriam Place might be, ite future mistress was 
very glad to get away from it on this particular evening. She 
gave a sigh of relief as the carriage door was shut, and the slow, 
steady old horses began their jog-trot progress. 

" ^ir Aubrey is very kind, papa," sne said, as if apologizing 
for the sigh ; " but rather dull. At least he was rather dml to- 
night." 

" Not half so dull as his brother. I've been bored tft ^vdaJiSsOvs^ 
those tedious stories about second-handL\>cK^<&. \ 'Oci^^^gE^ ^^"^ 



180 Taken at the Flood. 

seemed very well amused with Sir Aubrey. I heard joa laugh 
ever so many times." 

" One is obliged to laugh when people tell one anecdotes. Bni 
that kind of langhter is very fatiguing. I feel as tired as if I'd 
been teaching aU day in the Suuday-schooL I wonder whether 
good society is always fatiguing P " 

Mr. Oarew did not answer this speculative inquiry. He 
remembered society that had known no weariness. Those snug 
little dinners in the Ejibum villa — those gay summer evenin]y[6 
m the shrubberied ^rden, when he and his guests took their 
coffee outside the jasmine-shrouded verandah, by the light of 
the midsummer stars ; that inexhaustible talk of men and horses, 
and art and music ; and for the centre of the picture the fair 
face of his prettywife, the cynosure of all other eyes, if not his 
own lode- star. This society, for which James Carew had sacri* 
ficed honour and honesty, if not altogether " good," had at least 
never been dull. 

Sylvia nestled into the padded corner of the comfortable old 
carriage, and thought of her shopping at Monkhampton to- 
morrow. She had taken the bank-notes from her fatner, and 
had relucta|^tly relinquished one ten-pound note to that parent 
when he pleaded his poverty and embarrassments. 

" A hundred pounds is not much towards such a trousseau as 
I ought to have, papa," she had said somewhat dolefully. " It 
seems rather hard tnat you should want to take any of it away." 

''It seems harder that you should grudge your father a tnfle 
out of such a windfall," answered the schoolmaster bitterly. 
" What do yoa want with a heap of fine clothes ? Sir Aubrey 
Yill give you anything you ask him for when you are his wife." 

There was that other claimant, the wretched woman in Bell- 
alley, Fetter-lane. Sylvia did not quite forget that still stronger 
caU upon a daughter's benevolence. 

"I'll send her five pounds from Monkhampton to-morrow," 
she said to herself. " When I am Lady Ferriam I can often 
send her money." 

Before starting for Monkhampton Sylvia took Mai v Peter, the 
dressmaker, in some measure into her confidfloiee. She told this 
useful friend of her speedy marriage, but as she said nothing 
about the bridegroom Miss Peter naturally concluded that 
Edmunu Standen was that happy man. Sylvia wanted the 
dressmaker's aid in the choice of fabrics, the adjustment of 
quantities, and there was a pleasant sensation in going to Monk- 
hampton in the fiy from the inn, attended by Mary Peter. The 
driving from shop to shop was like a triumphal progress, and it 
was a new rapture to be able to choose the prettiest things— 
ihoBO peifcct boots which Sylvia had gazed at with enviooa 



The Threshold of Fate. 181 

mgha in the leading bootmaker's neatly arranged window— the 
lustrous silks, the soft lace, the delicate embroidery. Sylvia 
was surprised to find how speedily the bank-notes melted awa^r 
when she chose the best and choicest articles in Mr. Ganzlein's 
emporium. Mary Peter kept whispering to her that she must 
have twenty yards of this, and seventeen of that, and ten yards 
of the broad Brussels lace for a trimming, and three or foui 
pieces of Madeira work for the under linen which Miss Petei 
was to put in hand for her. She found that seventy pounds wak 
a mere nothing to spend at Mr. Granzlein*8, and tliat she must 
restrict her purchases to three or four dresses at the most. 

That thick corded silk of pearliest white which she selected, 
after much deliberation, for the wedding dress, would do for a 
dinner dress afterwards, Mary told her, and would dye after that. 

"Dye," exclaimed Sylvia, forgetting her previous reticence, 
" do you suppose I shall ever wear dyed silks P " 

** Well, I don't know why you shouldn't, Sylvia. Bich people 
wear them. I made up a dyed moire antique for Mrs. Toynbee 
last spring, ixid it looked very rich, but was just a little streaky 
by daylight. You might have your wedding dress dyed a lovely 
blue next year." 

Sylvia chose a dove-coloured silk — ^the real dove-colour — and 
a delicate gray. She remembered Sir Aubrey's charge about 
simplicity, and she fancied these subdued tints could scarcely 
fail to please him. She bought a good deal of lace, some linen 
fine enough for a Princess of the blood lUyal, a morning dress 
or two of plain white cambric, a black silk mantle, and a warm 
shawl for travelling, and found that these purchases absorbed 
the whole of her seventy pounds. Ten more pounds were ex- 
pended at the fashionable bootmaker's aforementioned, and at 
the chief perfumer and hairdresser's establishment, where Sylvia 
chose brushes and combs fit for the future Lady Perriam. 

" I haven't even money enough left for a dressing bag," said 
Sylvia dolefully, when she looked into her almost empty purse, 
which had seemed full to plethora a little while ago. 

** I dare say Mr. Standen will give you one," returned Miss 
Peter; "they generally do." They meaning the hapless bride- 
groom species. 

Sylvia ^ave a little start at the sound of that too familiar 
name. The thought of Edmund would come ever and anon to 
dash her sense of triumph, nay, to make all things bitterness to 
her. 

The two young women drove home merrily enough notwith- 
standing. They discuss^ the making of the dresses, and Sylvia 
Save her orders with the air of an empress. She begged that 
[ary would be very particular as to the neatness of the work, 
and desired that the style should be ele^wA-Vn w»^J^<^. ^ 



182 (Taken at the Flood. 

were to be none of the frillings, and crossway bands, and 
paffings, and fringes, and tassels, and gimps wbich Mrs. 
Toy nbee delighted in. " I can afford to dispense with trimming," 
Sylvia remanced grandly. 

" You will put off all other work, of conrse, for a wedding 
order," she said to her satellite at parting; "but, remember, 

Sou must tell no one whose wedding dresses you are making. I 
on't want people to know anything about my marriage tiU it*8 
over ! " 

" I suppose it's to be directly he comes back fnmi Demerara P ** 
hazarded Mary. 

^ " Never mind when it is to be. Mind I want my dresses in 
three weeks from to-day." 

" I believe it's a monel impossible," answered Mary, who had 
vague ideas about certain substantives, and said impossible for 
impossibility ; " but if it's in human nature to get through so 
much work in that time I'll do it." 

Sylvia thought of the dressmaker's bill. Sh* had but one 
ten-pound note lefb, and five pounds out of that she nad intended 
for her mother ; but she now decided on keeping the money for 
Mary Peter. It would not do to enter her new stage of existence 
in debt to a village dressmaker. She would send Mrs. Garford 
money after her marriage. 

Thus it happened that the lodger in Bell-alley profited 
nothing by Sir Aubrey's hundred pounds. 

Before nightfall a great many people in Monkhampton had 
heard of Miss Carew's purchases at Ganzlein's. The school- 
master's daughter was very well known in the shop, though her 
outlay heretofore had been most meagre — a yard or two of rib- 
bon, a cheap ivuslin dress, a pair of gloves, and so on. That 
expenditure of seventy pounds had made the grave Ganzlein 
himself open his eyes to the widest extent as ne stood at his 
desk in a dark comer of the shop, counting out Miss Carew's 
money. He talked of the circumstance at £nner in the bosom 
of his famfly. opining that her marriage with Edmund Standen 
was to take place very soon ; and there was a good deal said by 
Mrs. and the Miss (xanzleins about Mr. Standen's foolish in- 
fatuation. 

" Young Standen must have given her the money she laid out 
to-day," obsi^rved the draper. " She couldn't hare got it fioni 
her father." 

" Everybody's mad about that girl, I think," returned Mrs. 
Ganzlein. " I was told only yesterday that Sir Aubrey had 
taken notice of her and her lather, and had them up at thd 
Place." 



i 



ii ■■ 



183 



OHAPTBB XXDC. 

"1 SIGH THE LILCK OF MANY A THING I BOUGHT." 

The swift days went past. Veiy swift they seemed to Sylvia, 
and yet very slow. Sne had chosen her own fate, yet she felt 
in a manner doomed. There were times when she ^It as help- 
less as the Inckless sailor clasped in the pulpy embrace of that 
sea-monster whose gelatinous arms are stretched out of thb sea 
to draw the victim to his death. The sea-monster was Fate. 

The letter to Demerata was gone now ; it was hastening over 
the wide blue sea. How happy Sylvia would have been had 
she been sailing over the wide ocean, instead of that false, de* 
ceitful letter, the letter in which she surrendered her love, with 
tears, for his own sake. 

He would return — too soon, come when he would^-to find her 
another man's wife. ! bitter awakening from his brief dream 
of woman's fidehty I 

Sylvia paid no more visits to Ferriam Place during the brief 
period of her betrothal. Sir Aubrey would have liked her to be 
there often, but many such visits would have set people talking; 
and he wanted to stave off all gossip and wonderment till after 
his marriage. He made all the necessaij arrangements as 
secretly as if he had been chief conspirator m a new gunpowder 
plot ; procured the licence ; and executed that deed of settle- 
ment one morning in Mr. Bain's office, where Sylvia, in her 
white bonnet and pale muslin dress, looked like a hothouse plant 
that some wind had blown there. 

The days went by, the long summer evenings dwindled. The 
July moon shrank and waned, August was very near. Then 
came the first week of August. The reapers were abroad in the 
land. The frightened corncral^e knew not whither to betake 
himself. The neavy wains rolled homeward in the shortening 
twilight. Sylvia's wediing day was at hand. 

Sir Aubrey spent all his evenings in the school-house parlour, 
which was perhaps a more cheerful apartment for the occupa- 
tion of three people than that too spacious saloon at Ferriam. He 
came under cover of dusk for the most part, being so anions 
to preserve the secret of his wooing — came to sit opposite his 
betrothed, while she beguiled the evening with some trifling 
fancy work, and to discourse mildly, as he had discoursed at 
Ferriam, repeating himself a little now and then. He was 
rather fond of talking politics, and ^s his opinions were of the 
good old Tory school, hardly modified since the days of Chatham 
Md North, and Mr, Garew» like most disappointed men, was a 



184 Tallren ml (Ju Flood. 

virulent Eadical, there was |)lenty of room for argnmeat letween 
tliese two politicians, ojlvia wondered that people could talk 
|0 much and ^et so angry about things which seemed really to 
matter very httle to anybody outside the House of Commons. 
The world seemed tn go on pretty much the same whether Gun- 
sprvatives or Liberals were dominant, and rates and taxes were 
just as hard to pay whether one Chancellor of the Exchequer 
or another dipped his fingers into the purses of the people. 

Mary Peter Drought the dresses home one by one, and theil 
fsimple magnificence almost astonished the enraptured possessor 

* I tl^nk that's heavenly," exclaimed Mary, as she held up 
the dove-coloured silk in the little cottage bed-chamber, alio 
shook out its lustrous folds with the mantua-maker*s sb lUed 
Imnd. " It pays you well, Sylvia, though you did give ten and 
SIX a yard for it. I haven't made up many richer silks, not 
even for Mrs. Standen— your mother-in-law that is to be,** 
added Mary jocosely. 

There was hardly room for all the finery in Sylvia's small 
bedroom. Her riches were almost embarrassing. The dresses 
lay about covered with clean linen, like bodies laid out in a 
hosmtal. 

"You've got new trunks to put them in, I hope," said Mary. 
"There*s nothing I Uke to see better than handsome port- 
manteanx, when a bride's going off for the wedding trip." 

Sylvra sighed despairingly. 

" 1 haven't a box belonging to me," she said ; ** I've never 
travelled anywhere like other people." 

"Then, I daresay Mr. Standen will give you a couple of 
handsome trunks. You've only to drop an 'int when he comes 
back." 

" I hate hints," returned Sylvia ; " I must ask him to give 
me some boxes." 

She made the request to Sir Aubrey that evening, when he 
inquired if she were nearly ready for the wedding journey — 
only three days now remained before the appointed date. Mr. 
Vancourt, the vicar, had received notice of the marriage- all 
arrangements were made. 

" My dresses are quite ready, Sir Aubrey," she rejilied, ** but 
I have no boxes to put them in." 

** You'd better order a conj)le of fair-sized portmanteaux et 
Folthoq^e's. Don't have them too large, they're a nuisance in 
travelling, and the French railways charge for all luggage.** 

" I am sorry that I spent all my money before I uiought of 
the trunks," said Sylvia, blushing deeply. It was hard to beg, 
even of her betrothed, though she thought of him in the future 
as a person who would give her everything she desired, whose 
purse she cc»u]d dniw upon with perfect freedom. 



•* I Sigh the Lad of many a Thing I Sought.^ 181 

Sir A.nbrey stared at her somewHat blankly. 

" Oh» yon nave spent that hundred rK>nnd!s,'* he said, taken 
off his guard by an announcement which considerably surprised 
him, in his happy ignorance of feminine costliness. " I fear 
youVe been buying a good deal of unnecessary fineiy." 

" I hope not. Sir Aubrey. I have tried to choose thingd to 
please you," the girl answered quickly, tears of hundliatioL 
starting in her eyes. 

" My dearest, pray don't think that I am vexed with you,'* 
cried the baronet, melted by that tearful look in those lovely 
eyes. •* The money was yours to do what you liked with. I'll 
order your portmanteaux tomorrow morning." 

He had as yet ^ven her but one present besides that utili* 
tarian offering of bank-notes. His single gift was an old- 
fashionxl diamond hoop ring of his mother s ; the diamonds set 
in time darkened silver, and encircling the finger. This was 
ioubtle&s but an earnest of the splendours which he would heap 
upon her by-and-bye. 

The wedcUng day arrived — a misty August momins ; the hills 
and woods around Hedingham were shrouded in li^ht summer 
vapour, which melted slowly before the sun. Sylvia heard the 
cheery voices of the reapers in the barley field yonder, and 
envied them their careless liberty. They were not going to be 
married. It was not the most awful day in their Hyes. They 
were not going to set a solemn seal upon their destinies, binding 
them to an unknown master for all time to come. 

Only on the very threshold of doom did Sylvia pause to con- 
sider what she was doing. She dressed herself in the white silk 
wedding gown, unassisted, and wondered a little at her own 
beauty as she saw herself in the glass. That shining, pearly 
fabric, so trying to lesser loveliness, became her as its petahi 
become the lily. But at this last moment she felt that her 
wedding dress was too fine for her wedding. There were to 
be no bridesmaids, no guests, no breakfast. She wau to walk 
from the garden to the church on her father's arm, unseen, un- 
admired, to meet Sir Aubrey and Mr. Bain in the vestry, and 
directly the ceremony was over she was to put on her travelling 
dress and drive off to Monkhampton station with her elderly 
husband. It was not such a wedding as her dreams hin 
shadowed forth when she was betrothed to Edmund Standen. 
In thob-e vague, pprlish visions she had pictured her wedding 
all gaiety and brightness, her village friends looking on admir- 
ingly, the school-children strewing her path with flowers. 

"This lovely dress is quite thrown away," she thought, with 
a discontentea sigh. "I^o one will see it but papa, and Sir 
A ubrey and Mr. Bain. I might just as well have kept the money 
it cost i only it would seem ao strange to be inaxiv<(il\SL ^^^soanir 



186 Taken at the Flood. 

Her father made some remarks of a disparaging kind when 
she went downstairs in her radiant toilet. 

** You'd better have been married in yonr travelling dress," 
he said ; " ihat white thing's quite out of place for a private 
wedding. Sir Aubrey wanted to drive straight off from the 
churchyard gate." 

Sylvia pouted, and reflected with some self-gratulation that 
lier father would hardly presume to question her actions when 
she was Lady Perriam. 

"I shan't be ten minutes changing my dress," she answered. 
** Sir Aubrey must wait." 

" Must wait, must he P These are early days to talk of must.** 

" Do you think I am goin^ to be dictated to like a little child 
«7hen I am married P " Sylvia asked haughtily. 

" I think you will have to behave a Tittle more amiably to 
Sir Aubrey than you have behaved to me," answered her father. 

" I shall not have to cook his dinners at any rateP" retorted 
Sylvia. And in this Christian frame of miud father and 
daughter repaired, arm in arm, to the parish church. 

Sir Aubrey and Mr. Bain were od the ground before them. 
The bridegroom gave a little start at sight of the bride's white 
robes. He had expected to see her dressed ready for their 
journey ; but he could not complain when she looked so lovely. 
He uttered an admiring exclamation, and raised her hands to 
his lips with that stately gallantry which so well became him. 
Mr. Vancourt was ready for them, and his countenance gave no 
indication of the surprise which must have reigned within him 
at this singular union. He performed the ceremony with an 
agreeable briskness, and Sir Aubrey found himself a married 
man sooner than he could have believed possible. 

Mr. Bain was very attentive to the ceremony, and curiously 
watchful of the bnde, in his quiet way. Sylvia's manner 
was emotionless in the extreme ; emotionless almost to apathy. 
There are awfal moments in life when the feelings seem he* 
numbed. Sylvia felt nothing but a vague sense of wonder. 
How had this thing come to pass so speedily P 

" Let me be the first to salute Lady Perriam," said Mr. Bain, 
when they had signed the register in the vestry ; and before 
any one could protest a^nst such an enormity he had pressed 
his lips upon Sylvia's fair forehead, the first kiss that had rested 
there since Edmund's despairing farowelL The bride drew back 
indicant at the affiront. 

"It is the privilege of a best man," apologized Mr, Bain. 
"JPrav pardon me for having taken so great a liberty. Lady 

'_* YeSrf n\y love,** said Sir Aubrey, putting aside the absurdity 
;j)!S^[^ jy^^ with an easy laaghi "it ia Bain's privilege, X 



" I Sigh the Lack of many a Thing I Sought" 18T 

1)elieve. You mustn't be angry with him. But he might have 
waited for the second T)lace. And Sir Aubrey set the hus- 
band's first kiss on the lips of the bride. It seemed a piepos- 
terous thing that another man — ^his lawyer and steward — should 
have kissed her first. 



CHAPTER XXX. 

"passion's passing bell.** 

EoKUKD St^nden had been nearly three weeks in Demerara» and 
had transacted the greater part of the business that was, required 
to be done in the settlement of the late Mr. Sargent's wairs, 
when the English mail brought him Sylvia's letter — the letter 
of renunciation. 

He sat for some minutes after he had finished reading it, 
stupefied. It seemed like a bad dream. That she, Sylvia Carew, 
who had laid her head upon his breast in that fond farewell, 
and promised to be faithful — ^that she could thus deliberately 
renounce him, seemed a thing impossible of belief. 

He read the letter slowly, thoughtfully, his senses coming 
back to him by degrees. No, it was not a jest, not a sportive 
girl's playful trifling with her lover. It had been written in 
sober earnest. It was a thoughtful, deliberate letter — ^logical 
even, — and giving sound reasons for the writer's decision. 

" She has grown very wise," he said to himself bitterly, and 
then read the letter for a third time. 

Love had such potent dominion over him that he could not 
long feel bitterly towards the writer of that miserable letter. 
The third perusal let in a new light upon the lines. This 
foolish epistle, which had given him so keen a pan^, was but a 
proof of his darling's unselfishness — it showed him the noble 
mind of her he loved. For his own sake, out of concern for his 
welfare, she renounced him. 

She preferred to remain in her obscure position, to endure her 
joyless life, rather than to accept ilie cnances of his future ; 
simply because she would not h^ve him forfeit fortune for hei 
sake. The letter breathed regretful love ; her heart overflowed 
with tenderness for the man whose affection she renounce^, 

"Foolish child," murmured Edmund^ with a fond smile, 
** more than foolish to think I would sacrifice her love for any- 
thing fortune can bestow. How could she have wavered so 
soon after our mutual vows of fidelity, when she knew that there 
was nothing but hopefulness in my mind. Can my motlifl^_ 



k 



188 Taken at the Flood. 

have inflaenced lier to write this letter P It looks rather liki 
it. Bat, no, that's not possible. Mj mother is incapable of 
falsehood or meanness. She promised to be kind to my darling 
while I was away. She wonld never take advantage of my 
A,bsence to persuade Sylvia to renounce me." 

Whatever inflnence might have caused the writing of thai 
letter, Mr. Standen had but one thought after receiving it, and 
that was an eager desire to get back to England as soon as it 
was practicable for him to return there. He completed the re- 
mainder of the business in hand, doing it well, though quickly. 
He persuaded Mrs. Sargent that for her own heahh and her 
children's an immediate departure was advisable, and prevailed 
upon the stricken widow to make herself and belongings ready 
to start by the next inter colonial steamer to St. Thomas. Poor 
Mrs. Sargent obeyed her brother willingly enough. Had he not 
come to her as a protecting angel in the hour of her bitterest 
needP She was glad to leave the scenes where all her happi- 
ness was associated with the dead. The little black-frocked chil- 
dren were rejoiced to go to England in the big steamer, and 
talked rapturously of seeing grandmamma, whom the eldest 

Sst remember. Edmund diliEbted on the delights of the Dean 
ouse gardens, and the English fruits and flowers, which were 
so different from the guava, tamarinds, plsfntains, and pine- 
apples familiar to these small colonists. 

The duty of consoling his sister and amusing her children 
kept Edmund Standen too constantly engaged for much indul- 
gence in morbid thoughts. The widowed voyager was ill and 
broken spirited, and her brother had hard woi% to cheer her, 
were it ever so little. The small nephew and nieces were exact- 
ing. Edmund had actually no time for gloomy forebodings, 
which are gonerally the growth of leisure. He grew to think of 
the letter qaite kghtly. " Dear foolish Sylvia, how could she 
suppose I would give her up P " he said to himself. 

Although duty kept him closely employed, it could not alto- 
gether stifle impatience, and the voyage seemed longer than it 
would have appeared to a contented mind. He so longed to see 
liis darling again, to gaze once more into the darkly luminous 
lyes, and read there the tender denial of that foolish letter. 
When at last the steam wheels turned gaily in English waters, 
and the pretty Wight, clad in autumn's russet ana Rold, stole 
np out of the blue, his heart beat loud with joy. Soutnampton, 
commonplace enough to the common traveller, to the lovei 
seemed a fair city, whose pavements were golden. 

Mr. Standen sJlowed the widow and orphans but one night's 
rest at the Dolphin, ere he whisked them off to Monkhampton 
hyjT the South-Western Bailway. It was a long day's journey, 
with some charigin^ of trains, and much delay ^t the junctions 



'• Passion's Passing BelV* 180 

vqjiere thej changed, and again nncle Edmund was fnllj em- 
ployed by tHe claims of the widow and the small children. He 
was tired when thej arriyed at Monkhampton, where his mother's 
room J landau and a cart for the luggage were in attendance. 
Edmund felt somewhat surprised that neither Mrs. Standen nor 
Esther had come to meet the travellers. 

It was late in October, and, even in this eenial climate, 
autumn's decaying touch had made hayoc. The woods were 
loyely with that splendour which is the forerunner of death. 
The bare fields and Dusy plough spoke of seedtime and winter. 
The carriage wheels went silently over fallen leaves that lay 
deep in the unfrequented roads. How welconte was that simple 
beauty of English landscape to Edmund after the more lavish 
nature of South America ! 

He uttered that favourite.exclamation of Englishmen : 

"After all, there is no place like dear old England." And 
England held Sylvia, that one lode-star of his som. 

Mrs. Sargent sighed plaintively. 

** How happy I should be to return if I were coming back 
with George, she murmured. 

The chiMren were ^y enough, craning their young necks in 
all directions, struggkng out of their nurse's arms, pointing to 
every dwelling they beheld, near or distant, and asking if that 
was grandmamma's house. Finding by degrees that a great 
many houses did not belong to grandmamma, they began to 
have a diminished idea of. that lady's possessions. 

But they came to Dean House at last : the staid, sober, old 
mansion, nronting the high road so boldly, and not pretending 
to be anything better than it was. There was the familiar iron 
gate, there the g^reen tubs of scarlet geranium, still flourishing 
with luxuriant bloom. Edmund gave a little impatient sigh as 
he thought how much m-eetin^ he would have to go through, 
and how many maternal questions, fond and anxious, he would 
bave to answer, before he could hurry off to Hedingham and 
clasp Sylvia to his breast. It would be night ere he crossed the 
old churchyard and opened the little gate into the schoolhouse 
garden, and saw the ughted windows of Sylvia's parlour. He 
could fancy her glad look of surprise wheu she opened the door 
in answer to his summons and saw him standing before her in 
the moonlight. Come back from the other side of the world, as 
it wese ; come back to claim her in spite of her letter. 

The neat parlour-maid opened the glass door. The gardener 
and his underlmg came out to assist with the lugga^; and 
whfle Edmund was lifting the children out of the carnage his 
mother appeared on the wreshold with Esther Bochdale at her 
side. 

The first glance told Edinnnd that their faoea yiei^ '^^s^.^S^^Kfet!- 



190 Ihken at the Flood. - • 

ful. It was in honour of George Sargent, of oours^ that t^iey 
put on those sombre looks. . r * / 

"It's a pity they should look so doleful,*' thought iJdiimiid. 
" I've had sadness enough &om Ellen aH the way from Deme- 
rara, and now they remind her of her misfortunes instiead of 
trying to make her forget them." 

He kissed his mother, who received him with deepest tebd^ 
ness. '* My own brave son," she said. " Thank God for haying 
brought you back to me," 

** How is Sylvia P " he asked eagerly. Th^ were a little way 
apart from the widow, nurse, and children. The little ones were 
being kissed and welcomed by Esther Bochdale. She was de- 
light with theJse new claimants for her affections. Her happV, 
loving nature overflowed in fond caresses and pretty girlish "talk. 

"It does seem sweet to come to you," saia poor Ellen, and 
then melted to tears at the thought that she came without that 
other half of her own being, the idolized husband. 

Edmund repeated his impatient question. His mother was 
slow to answer, but hung upon him with half'despairing fond- 
ness, as if he were going to be led off to execution in a minute 
or two. 

** I don't know," faltered Mrs. Standen. " She is very well, 
I believe. I have not seen her lately. Come to your room, 
Edmund ; you must be so tired. Change your dusty clothes, 
and come down to dinner. It has been ready for the last half- 
hour.'* 

"You haven't seen her lately! " repeated Edmund, ignoring 
Mrs. Standen's maternal solicitude. " x ou promised you would 
be kind to her, mother." 

"Edmund," said Mrs. Standen, with that steady, resolute 
look which her son knew so well, " I will not say a word about 
Sylvia Carew till you have dined and rested a little." 

"Then I shall go to Hedingham this moment," cried Edmund, 
snatching his hat from the slab where he had just now put It 
dbwn. 

" "What, run away from your mother in the first hour of your 
return to her P I am sorry you have no better idea of a son's 
duty." 

Edmund put his hat down again. 

" You are too hard upon me, mother," he said, melted, but 
et reproachful. " You aon*t consider how my heart yearns tor 
ler. I have had but one letter from her during my absence, 
and that a letter calculated to make me uncomfortable. I, am 
dying to see her. But if you wish it 1*11 dine first. Only you 
miffht gratify me by speaking of her. Tell me that she is weU 
fttd happy. That will last till I have dined, and can get to the 
da ochoolhoTiBeJ* 



I 



•"Possum'* Passing Seir IH 

••I have every reason to believe that she is well and — ^pros- 
I»5rous." 

" Meamig happy. That will do, mother. I see Sylvia will be 
always a sore subject with yon, and a bone of contention between 
tis. But I mnsi make the best of it. My affection for you 
shall not be diminished by your prejudice, nor my love for Sylvia 
lessened because you refuse to love her." 

He went upstairs to his room, the fresh bright English room, 
with its English comforts. There was a fire burning in his 
dressing-room to welcome the voyager from a warmer climate. 
But this material luxury could not restore Edmund Standen's 
good temper. He flung himself into the arm-chair before the 
fire, and sat there in gloomy meditation instead of hastening to 
make his toilet for dinner. 

** Domestic dissension!" he muttered, "how hard it is! 
Will my mother never reconcile herself to my choice ? Will 
this sort of thing continue for the rest of our lives P It tempts 
me to think that my mother's influence was at the bottom of 
that wretched letter." 

He went downstairs a quarter of an hour later, refreshed as 
to his external appearance, but by no means comfortable in his 
mind. The three ladies were already assembled in the dining- 
room, and Mrs. Sargent was looking almost bright, now that 
she was once more under the mother's wing. But Mrs. Standen 
and Esther both had a cloudy look. Except for their first greet- 
ing Edmund and Esther had hardly spoken to each other once 
since his return. Miss Bocfadale looked very small, and flight, 
and insignificant in her black dress, and seemed anxious to 
avoid Edmund's notice. 

The dinner progressed in the usual stately manner — that re- 
spectable stateliness and slowness which makes even a moderate 
dmner such a lengthy business. It would have been pleasant 
enough if there had been plenty of talk to fill the pauses in the 
service, but this was ratner a silent party. Ellen and her 
mother talked a little, in confidential tones, chiefiy about th^ 
lamented deceased, and the details of his sudden end. Edmund, 
whom inclination would have kept silent, felt that for civility'^ 
sake he must talk to Esther. 

" Anything stirring at Hedingham while I was away P " he 
asked. "Have you any news to tell me, Esther P You o«ght 
to have quite a budget after three months." 

Miss Bochdaie blushed, and looked down at her plate. 

** 1 don't think there's much to tell," she said. " Hedingham 
is always quiet, you know, Edmund." 

" Yes, it's a dreadfully dead and alive place, no doubt; stiU 
in three months there must have been some remarkable eventi 
— cnckei matches footbaU ** 



192 Ibken at (he Fldoi. 

" I really don't know anything aboat cricket or footbalL* 

« Dinner parties, births, deaths, marriages P " 

At this last word Esther's blush deepened to sa4k crimsoii 
that Edmund conld bat remark it. 

** Gome, there has been a wedding," he exclaimed, " and one 
that yon are rather interested in, I should think, bj the wa]p 
yon blush. What does it mean, Esther? Haye jou been 
getting married yourself, and kept the news to surprise me on 
my return P " 

"No, Edmund. I am never going to marry. IVe been 
making a solemn yow to that effect to the little ones upstairs. 
I'm going to be Aunt Esther all my life, and a nice old maiden 
M.unt by-and-bye." 

" Nice you must always be ; but we shan't allow you to be 
always a spinster. My mother must haye some of the^propen- 
sities of her sex, supeiior- minded as she is. Now, you know, 
all women are match-makers. When they 'ye done v^ith matri- 
monial schemes on their own account they begin to plot for 
some one elsa I'ye no doubt my mother has her yiews about 
jon. 

Esther was silent, and looked eyen a little embarrassed by 
this mild badinage. 

" Then there is positiyely no news in Hedingham P " said 
Edmund. 

" None that you would care to hear.** 

Dinner was oyer at last, and the produce of the Dean House 
grapery duly praised — the largest bunches sent upstairs to the 
children by the fond grandmother. Edmund left tne room with 
his mother, put his arm through hers, and led her towards the 
study, a snug little room where there were always candles ready 
to M light^ when any one wanted to write a letter or find a 
book. 

** Come in here, mother," said the young man. " I want to 
haye a long talk. I suppose it's too late for me to go to the 
sohoolhonse to-night, though I had set my heait upon seeing 
Sylyia before I went to bed. Our dinner is always such a long 
business." 

He struck a match, lighted the tall candles in the old silyei 
candlesticks, wheeled a comfortable chair forward for his mother, 
and then seated himself opposite her. 

" Now, mother," he said, " I'ye dined and rested, in Dbedience 
to your behest, and now tell me all about Sylyia." 

" Edmund," faltered Mrs. Standen, looking at him with un- 
speakable tenderness, " I have something to tell you which will, 
rfear, make you very unhappy, yet it ought not to do so, if you 
?an only be wise, and see the matter as X see it. You have hail 
a most napx^y escape.** 



" Faanon't Fasamg Bell'' 198 

"What do yon meauP" cried Edmund, witn qoickeneil 
breathing. " I don't nnderstand a word you say." 

" Sylvia Carew is married." 

" Married P '' he cried, looking at her in sheer amazement, and 
then he broke out into a langh, singrdarly harsh of sound as 
compared with that genial laughter which was natural to him. 
" Come, mother, this is a joke, of course. Or yon're trying nle 
— ^yon want to find out how I should take the loss of her, were 
it possible for me to lose her. But it isn't possible, except by 
death." Then, with an awful look he cried out, "She's not 
dead, is sheP You said just now that she was well, but yon 
may have been paltering with me iu a double sense. The diead 
are well. For Grod's sake, speak," he cried violently, ** is Sylvia 
dead?" 

** No, she is well enough, as I told you when you asked about 
her ; and she is what the world calls wonderfully fortunate. She 
is married to Sir A-ibrey Perria?a." ' 

" Mother, do you want to drive me mad P Whose invention, 
whose lie is tmsP Married to Sir Aubrey! Why, she had 
never seen the man's face. I heard her say so the day before 
the school feast." 

" True, but he saw her at the school feast; saw her and fell 
in love with her. They were married about five weeks after yon 
left. A very quiet marriage. No one, except the Yic^ and 
the people concerned, knew anything about it till it was over. 
It was a nine davs' wonder. They came back to the Place a 
fortnight ago. I have seen Lady Perriam driving about in her 
carriage." 

" Lady Perriam," cried Edmund, with a still harsher laugh. 
'* How well it sounds, doesn't it P I suppose it was for that she 
married a man who must be nearly old enough to be her grand- 
father. Lady Perriam ! No, it was her father forced her to 
marry him. I'll not believe that she was base. I know that 
she loved me. I heard the beating of her heart in the moment 
of our parting — the heart that beat so strongly, and seemed all 
truth. I know that she loved me ! " 

** She may have loved you in her own seltish way ; but you 
see she loved rank and wealth much better." 

" It was no act of her own free wilL She was goaded to it, 
forced to do it." 

" She renounced you of her own free will in less than a week 
after you left," answered Mrs. Standen ; and then she told the 
story of her first and only visit to Sylvia Carew. 

" Esther was present all the time ; Esther heard all," she said 
in conclusion. 

" Oh, I am not going to question the truth of your state- 
ments," returned Edmund weaidly. " She haA maxty^^^oaH^ ^A. 



194 Takfin at the Flood. 

man — that as enough. It matters very little by what degrees 
she arrived at that haseness. Enough to know that she Hed to 
me ; that when she looked up in my face with tearfnl eyes — 
those lovely eyes — and swore to be true to the very last, she was 
captible of deceiving me ; a fine house, a carriage, a high-sound- 
ing name, could tempt her away fk)m me. Say even that her 
father persuaded her, threatened, tormented her, had she been 
loyal she would have borne the uttermost torment, she would 
haTS iied under the torture, rather than broken her ^th with 
npie. 'Fhe struggle would not have been for very long. She 
knew tihafc I was coming back. A little courage, a litue con- 
stancy, and I should have been at her side to claim and hold 
her for my own against all the world." 

The strong man was van(}uished by the force of that stronger 
T>assion — and, for the first time since his father's death, Edmund 
Btanden wept bitter teai;^. 

The mother flew to his side, knelt by his chair, hung upon 
him fondly, trying to comfort him, with overflowing love. 

" Edmund," she sobbed, " it is not my fault — you will not 
hate me because of this sorrow that has fallen upon you. Be- 
lieve me, I did nothing to influence that false, wicked girl. I 
went to her, prepared to take her to my heart — I promised to be 
generous to you by-an-by, if she proved to be a good wife — I 
tried to conciliate her, but she was false to you in her heart at 
that very moment. She seized upon the shallowest pretext for 
jilting you. She is a base designing creature, not worth a 
thought." 

" Hush, mother," said the young man, with an almost solemn 
quietude. He had dried those unmanly tears, and bore the 
snarp pains of this new sorrow like a martyr. " Hush, mother 
—not one word against her. Let her name be dead between us. 
Let it be more utterly dead than the names of those we have 
loved and lost. We speak of them sometimes. We will never 
speak of her." 

His mother, wise even in her love, kissed his cold Vjrow — dnmp 
with the anguish of this mental struggle — and left him aloiie 
with his sorrow. Whatever form his passion took, were it 
despair or anger, it was best that he snould fight his battle 
done. 



^ 



CHAPTER XXXL 

THE ALOE TUAT BLOOMS BtPT ONCB. 

The Dean House family saw no more of Edmund Standen thai 
•light. He stayed in the study for about an hour, and then le% 



The Alofi that Blooms hut Onot,. 198 

bimself quietly out of the ball door, and set ott in the direction 
of Hedingham. Somo carious impnlse of mind and heart led 
him to the scene of his lost happiness — ^the shadowy old ohurc^ 
yard where he had lingered with his beloved in the snmmeF 
evenings that were gone, the wide-stretching old yew which baa 
so often been their ^sting tree — ^the garden hedge by which he 
had waited sometimes after dark for the stolen handclasp, a few 
hasty words, a promise of meeting to-morrow. 

The moon was np, and the country side glorious in that 
solemn beauty which only moonlight can give. The distant 
line of sea yonder, which the lonely pedestrian saw from the hill 
top, looked silver white against uie dark of wood and moor. 
Edmund crossed that little copse adjoining the hillside meadow, 
and the old chestnut tree, beneath wnich he and Sylvia had met 
80 often. 

The past is eternal, says Scliiller. Edmund felt that his past 
happiness must colour all his life to come, never to be forgotten, 
an ever-present regret, a haunting shadow dividing him from all 
possibilities of joy. He lingered a little beneath the wide boughs 
of the chestnut. Early to blossom, early to fade, like his own 
hopes, had been the ola tree. The dead leaves fluttered slowly 
down about him as he stood there, alone with his withered 
hopes. "Poor leaves, poor dreams !" he said to himself; " who 
would have thought in your spring tide that you bloomed but to 
decay P " 

It was ten o'clock when Edmund entered the village, and 
Hedingham was for the most part asleep.* The ripple of the 
brook that ran through the rustic street was the only sound in 
the place. There were lights in the vicarage windows, and lights 
in tne school-house, lights gleaming from the two lattices he liail 
watched so often. He crossed the churchyard, lingering a little 
bv the tomb of the de Bossineys, as he had lingered under the 
chestnut. Here they two had parted, with vows of eternal 
fidelity. Here he had left her sorrow stricken. 

" Fortune is a speedy consoler," he said to himself bitterly. 

He Opened 1^ loosely-latched gate, between the churchyard 
and the schoolmaster's garden, and went in. He wanted to sec 
James Garew — to task him with having forced his <laughter tc 
this ill-assorted union— *to tell him in no gentle phrase his 
opinion of that act. 

He knocked at the low door under the porch, and it was 
opened promptly. But not by James Oarew. The person who 
opened it was a youngish man, with sandy hair, and spectacles. 

"Is Mr. Garew at home?" asked Edmund, wondering who 
this stranger might be. 

"Mr. Garew left Hedingham six weeks ago," answered the 
young man. " He gave up the situation of scboolssas^wt » ^^aJ^ 



196 Taken at the Flood. 



i 



on accoimt of declining Health and partly because of his daughter 
haying married Sir Aubiev Perriam." 

" Do yon know where Mr. Carew has gone P ** 

** Not exactly, sir. I believe he went abroad, somewhere in 
the south of France, to spend the winter." 

This seemed carious. Edmund fancied that Sylvia's father 
would remain at Hedingham to profit by the barter of his 
daughter's peace; yet it nad been foolishness to expect to find 
him still a parish schoolmaster toiling for a pittance. That 
would have been a sorry bargain which would have left him no 
better off than before. He had doubtless hurried ofi to enjoy 
life, remote from the scene of his iniquity. 

Edmund left the schoolhouse. It nad a changed look to him 
somehow, as if it were but the dead corpse of the place he had 
once known. The garden was strewed with faded leaves — the 
dahlias and ragged cnrysanthemums spoke of autumn and decay 
—the perfume of the summer was fled — scentless flowers bloomed 
voldly in the beds that had once been sweet with roses and car- 
iiations, sweet peas, and mignonette. 

"How shall 1 teach myself to forget herP" thought Edmund, 
ab he walked homeward to begin common daily life again, with- 
out the charm that had sweetened it. 

He had been happy enough before he had met Sylvia Oarew, 
but now happiness seemed impossible without her. 

Mrs. Stanaen and Esther were both agreeably surprised by 
Edmund's manner next morning. They had fancied that the 
gloom of this great sorrow womd hang over him long, would 
poison his life for years to come. They had thought, with fear 
and trembling, how some perilous fever of mind and body might 
\e the issue of his disappointment. They were unspeakably re- 
^eved to find him in outward bearing almost the same as of old ; 
a little graver and more silent perhaps, but manly, cheerful, 
tlioughtful for others. In a word, Eamund Stanaen did not 
w^ar his heart upon his sleeve for daws to peck at. 

Yet in his innermost heart he felt that all the best and 
orightest part of his life was ended. The hopes and dreams that 
nad made youth so fair a morning were dead for ever. He 
nerved himself to face this grief and conquer it, or at least rise 
superior to it ; but the grief was none the less intense because 
hf bore it hke a man. He also felt it like a man, to the core of 
his wounded heart. 

He had a long serious talk with his mother the day after his 
return. They walked up and down the broad gravel mall to- 
gether in the cheerful autumn sunlight, and spoke of tnaoiy 
things, but not a word oi Sylvia. 

** I think I shall go back to the Continent, mother, and wander 
about for a year or two," said Edmund; "there's a great d^al 



2%0 Aloe thai Blooms but Once, 197 

of Northern Earope that I should like to see — Boamania, Hun- 
gary, Poland. I might stop away as much as three yoaxs, 
porhaps." 

" very well, Edmund," said his mother, in her firm yet gentle 
voice. " If it is really for your happiness that you should go, 1 
cannot say stop. But I am getting old, and I had hoped you 
would have been my friend and companion in declining life. It 
seems hard that you must run away from me just when I need 
you most. Do you think it will be so much easier to get rid of 
your trouble in a foreign land — ^that you can dig a deeper grave 
for sorrow in a strange soil P " 

"You are right, mother. Trees and hills and flowers, and 
every wind and angle in the road, remind me of — what has been. 
But they do not awaken memory. That never sleeps, never can 
sleep. I daresay I should be just as wretched in Germany. If 
my going away would grieve you, why 1*11 stop." 

" if it would grieve me, Edmund ! What nave I to live for 
except you P Poor Ellen and the children — and Esther. They 
are very dear to me, but they have always been secondary to you. 
I gave you my whole heart, Edmund," 

" Yet you would have disinherited me." 

** That was a desperate means to save you from a fatal step. 
Providence has interfered. I shall never talk of disinheriting 
you any more." 

" If you knew how little I value money, you would better 
understand how vain a threat that was. Fate has been on 
your side, mother, but I could have held my own against all the 
world. I care less for money now ; and yet I feel that I can't 
lead an idle life. The dawdling, half-asleep and half-awake 
existence of a country squire won't do for me. I should go 
out of my mind. If you will not let me go abroad and roam 
from one place to another, I must find some kind of employ- 
ment." 

" My dear boy, I only desire to see you happy." 

" I believe that, mother," the son answered tenderly, " and to 
lie happy I must be occupied; hard work is the best cure for my 
disease. I'll go to Monkhampton to-morrow morning, see San- 
derson, the manager, and get him to take me into the bank. I 
fancy I must have inherited some of my father's commercial 
capacity." 

" Dear Edmimd, there is so little •ccasion for you to do anv- 
thing. You will have as good an income as you can possibly 



iesire." 



**1 want employment, mother, not income. If I were a 
heaven-bom genius I should go up to London and read for the 
bar, but I don't feel that I could wait seven years for mr'first 
brief, Fd lather have a stool in the Monkhamptoiv \3»x&^ 



19S Ihken at the Flood. 

count the farmers' greasy notes. I should feel that I was doing 
something." 

" Ah, Edmund, I look forward to the duj when you will see 
things in a new light. When a hope that I once foncuy cherisheo 
may ]>erhap8 be realized." 

•* What hope, mother P" 

" The hope of seeing you united to an amiable and worthy 
wife." 

** Stop, mother. Let that subject be a sealed book. I shaU 
never marry. 

" Never is a long word, Edmund.** 

"But life is not long. You know what my favourite poet 
says — * Our brief life forbids the indulgence of a distant hope.' 
What is to-day with me will be to-morrow." 

" If I thought that I should be miserable. But I trust in the 
goodness of God. My beloved son will not always be unhappy. 
The leaves fall from yonder trees, Edmund, but spring will bnng 
new buds.** 

" The heart of man has not the same happy facility for putting 
forth new shoots. Man's heart is like the aloe, which blossoms 
once in a generation." 

** My dear Edmund, it is natural for you to feel as you do. Yes, 
you shall take a situation at the bank ; you shall work as hard as 
you like; only stay near me. life is indeed too brief for the 
severance of a mother from her only son. I will put my trust m 
Providence, and wait till the aloe blossoms a^ain. 

" Not this aloe, mother. It may grow into a good strong 
plant, and be of some use in its generation, but it shall put forth 
no second flower." 

"Who shall answer for the heart P Only God and time," 
answered the mother solemnly. 

This conversation was not without a consoling effect upon 
Edmund. He went to the Monkhampton bank next day, and as 
it was only his caprice to seek employment, and salary was not 
a matter of bread and cheese to him, he was received by the 
manager with open arms* Mr. Sanderson was glad to pay honour 
to the representative of the founders of the bank. He offered 
Edmund a place immediately, and a hundred and fifty pounds 
per annum to start with. " It seems absurd to talk to you of 
salary," said Mr. Sanderson grandly, " but a hundred and fifty 
pounds will give you an extra hunter in the course of the year, 
or pay for you/ gloves." 

" You're very kind," answered Edmund, " but I don't want 
hunters or gloves. I want employment and independence." 

" Bather a curious business," thought the manager, when the 
applicant had retired. " I suppose he has had another shindy with 
old lady. They* said that mother and son quarrelled about 



^^ 



The Aloe that Blooms hut Once, 199 

the schoolmaster's pretty daughter, whom Sir Aubrey Perriam 
was foolish enough to marry. But what is the ^a*esent row 
about, I wonder P** 

The manager was surprised when Mrs. Standen drove up to the 
door in her pony-carriage to fetch her son after his first day at the 
bank. Still more surprised to see the mother's look of love as 
Edmund joined her. 

** Oome to fetch her little boy home from day school," said Mr. 
Sanderson to himself, " then there has been no shindy after all, 
and the young man means business." 



OHAPTEB XXXIL 

** A USELESS LIPE IS AK EABdiT DEATH.** 

Ladt Febbiah had been married three months. Two out of those 
three months she had spent at Perriam Place, and it seemed to 
her that her existence as Sir Aubrey's wife was quite an old 
thing. ** Lady Perriam. Sylvia, La^y Perriam," she repeated 
the title to herself wonderingly sometimes. There was so small 
a difference between Lady Perriam and Sylvia Carew. The same 
discontent, the same unsatisfied yearnings gnawed Sylvia's heart, 
amidst the placid grandeurs of !rerriam Place as in the village 
schoolhouse. Her ambition had been gratified beyond her 
wildest dream, but its gratification had brought her so little. 

For a short time, just so long as novelty, hke the bloom upon 
a peach, gave charm and beauty to her surroundings, she had 
beheved it all-sufficient for content, nay for happiness, to be 
mistress of Perriam Place ; to be able to say, " my house, my 
dressing-room, my boudoir, my gardens, my servants ; " to be 
waited upon by respectful attendants ; to have a carriage at her 
command; and to be caJled "My lady." It was iQso very 
pleasant to have no rooms to clean, no dmners to cook, no cups 
and saucers or plates and dishes to wash after every meal^in a 
V'ord, no daily routine of domestic labour. These were all on tb€ 
debit side of her ledger. But on the other side the sum of her 
discontents swelled day by day. Novelty's brief bloom soon 
faded from Perriam Place ; the large empty rooms began to wear 
a dreary look ; nay, at times, when she had been long alone in 
the drawing-room, there grew upon her a sense of some ghosMy 
unseen presence, lurking in the background of that spacious 
saloon. She almost feared to look behind her chair lest she 
should see something ; what, she had never imagined to heruelf. 
Sometimes she would glance nervously at one of those seven 



200 Taken at the Flood. 

long 'winotows, lialf fearing to see a strange face looking im at 
bei^— a ^uce not of this earth. Perhaps the yicinitj of so many 
dead Ferriams in the little chnrchyard below the Italian garden 
may have had something to do with this fancy. 

This stately solitude seen from the ontside woald have seemed 
perfect to the girlish eyes of Sylvia Carew. It was the life that 
she would have asked for had some liberal fairy bade her choose 
ber own destiny. But how many of us would choose amiss were 
we permitted to select our own lot out of the urn of fate. He 
who shakes the lots in the urn alone knows what is good for us. 

That splendid life, set round with worldly pomp, was very 
dismal for Sir Aubrey Perriam's young wife. Sweet though it 
was to be free from menial labour, the days seemed long and 
empty without that sordid toil. Sylvia laid out a grand scheme 
for completing her education. She would read the Latin poets, 
with the aid of grammar and lexicon ; she would improve her 
German. Unhappily, schemes such as these are apt to break 
down where there is no one to supervise the studies, or sympa- 
thize with the student. Sylvia had worked desperately at Ger- 
man during Edmund Standen's brief courtship, so that she 
might read the books he admired, and talk to him a little in that 
ragged language which has a force and power hardly found in 
more melodious tongues. Edmund had read Schiller's ballads 
to her sometimes in their twilight dawdlings by streamlet or 
meadow ; and to please him by ner progress she had worked 
assiduously, and deemed the labour sweet. Now she yawned 
over tbe strong wine of that verse, as if it had been the weakest 
milk and water of the Wordsworthian school — infinitely diluted 
Wordsworth. Nor did Horace's odes, which seemed full of grace 
and meaning when Edmund declaimed and explained them, 
now appear anything more than a string of nouns and adjec- 
tives, ablative absolutes and gerundives, worked into a distract- 
ing tangle. 

She might have obtained some kind of assistance from Mordred, 
but, whenever she ventured to appeal to that authority, he mean- 
dered off into prosy criticism upon the bard, and msisted on 
entertaining Sylvia with a catalogue of editions. His own 
nnderstandmg was too weak for a teacher. He could only repeat 
what he had read. Thus, after a month or so of systematic 
study. Lady Perriam lost heart, and only took up her books in a 
desultory manner. 

Sir Aubrey gave her no encouragement to study. He had tbe 
old-fashioned notion that a young woman should know how to 
make what his grandfather had ^Jled ** ^uddens," and be great 
in the still-room. If she hankered after higher accomplishments, 
ahe should paint flowers and butterflies upon velvet, or draw 
minute landscapes in pencil, to the injury of her sight, or paint 



•• J[ Useless Life is an Early Death.'* 201 

feathers in the same minnte style to adorn lier friends' albums. 
Then to fill np the snm of her indnstrions days she mi^ht do 
tambour work, or Abraham and Isaac in tent-stitch, as the last 
Lady Perriam but one had done, a work of art which might be 
seen to this day in the Bolingbroke chamber. Of blue stockings 
Sir Aubrey had a pious horror. 

" Look at Lady Mary Wortley Montagu," he said, when he 
dissuaded Sylvia from the study of the Latin poets ; *' she was 
yastly clever, but hardly respectable even at her best; and if the 
scandals of the period are to be believed, nor over-clean." 

For music, vocal or instrumental. Sir Aubrey cared not a jot. 
He had bought a cottage piano at Sylvia's request, and it was 
permitted to stand in a corner by one of the fireplaces in the 
saloon, where, in his heart of hearts, the baronet deemed it an 
eyesore. He would ask Sylvia to sing to him every evening* in 
exactly the same courteous tone ; but he read the paper while 
Bhe sang, and was rarely aware of the subject of her minstrelsy. 
Yet he thanked her witJa undeviating politeness when she closed 
the piano. 

The monotony of life at Perriam Place was far beyond any- 
thing one could expect in a monastery. Those solemn abodes 
are subject to the intrusion of travellers, the inspection of a 
yicar-general, changes in administration even, feast days, fast 
days, retreats, an endless variety as compared with life at Per- 
riam, which was smooth and changeless as the bosom of a canal. 
The well-trained servants pr^ared and set forth ettch day's 
meals in the same order. The same stillness pervaded the 
stately mansion from day to day. The endless ticking of the 
Louis Quartorze clock in the hall — a clock whose lacquered case 
was emblazoned with all the quarterings of the Perriams — seemed 
like a reminder of eternity. ** Always the same, always the 
same," said that solemn time-piece in Sylvia's weary ear. Semper 
eadenif semper eadem. 

Sir Aubrey was never unkind to her ; but, on the other hand, 
he was not the indulgent husband she had expected him to be. 
He was in no manner her slave; but, on the contrary, expected 
and exacted perpetual obedience from her. He was rather like 
a kind father than a doting husband. He did not lavish his 
wealth upon her caprices, and indeed rarel^r granted her requests 
— though he always refused them with ami^ility. 

One day she ventured to suggest that they might lead a gayer 
life than their present existence, that Perriam Place would seem 
all the pleasanter if it were occasionally filled with visitors. Sir 
Aubrey raised his eyebrows in placid astonishment. 

" My love, are you not happy P " he asked. 

Sylvia sighed, and replied that she was per?eci]y happy. 

^ Then wnj hazard our happiness ty introducing a foreign 



202 !Riken at the Flood. 

element into our lives P Yon liave not been accnstomed to « 
honse fall of visitors, neither have I. Since we are both happy, 
let ns do our best to remain so." 

Thus spoke the voice of age and wisdom, but youth's rebel- 
lious hecurt revolted against tnis sage decree. Tears of vexation 
started to Sylvia's eves. 

'* I knew jou lived here like a hermit while you were a bache- 
lor," she said ; ** people used to talk enough about it. But I 
thought when you were married it would be different — that you 
would entertain the county people as other rich men do, and 
enjoy life a little." 

" I hope the prospect of entertaining the county people was 
not your sole inducement to become my wife," answered Sir 
Aubrey, with that air of offended dignity with which he armed 
himself at times as with a hauberk. ** As to enjoying life, I 
live mv own Ufe, which is to my mind the highest enjoyment 
possible to humanity." 

Sylvia shrugged her shoulders, and submitted. She was 
obliged to submit, had indeed discovered that life matrimonial 
was all submission. Sir Aubrey was a kind, but not an indul- 
gent, hasband. That enthusiasm which had led him to woo and 
wed a village schoolmaster's daughter had cooled a little now 
that she was his wife— his own property to the end of his days. 
It was not that he was in any manner disappointed, or that nis 
admiring affection for Sylvia had grown cold. He wae perfectly 
satisfi«»d v7ith his lot, supremely pleased with his fair young wife; 
but he meant to live his own life, and meant also that she should 
conform to that life, and not seek strange pleasures and amuse- 
ments which would inflict trouble and vexation, as well as ex- 
pense, upon him. 

The rerriam honeymoon had been a very quiet business. 
The en^re«oHn the Faubourg St. Honor^ was not the palatial 
home which Sylvia had supposed so ^reat a man as Sir Aubrey 
would inhabit even in the land of the stranger. Sir Aubrey 
had taken his bride to all the usual shows — the Louvre, Luxem- 
bourg, the grand old churches, the Ja/rd4/n, dea Plamtes, the 
Hotel Gluny, Napoleon's Mausoleum, the fountains at Versailles, 
and the long terrace at St. Germains. AH these things Sir 
Aubrey had shown her ; but, wonderful and beautiful as they 
seemed to the untraveUed rustic, a shadow of dulness hung 
over them alL The numerous churches tired her before she had 
Keen half of them. The vast palaces with their endless pictures 
palled u{>on her weary senses. Sir Aubrey, with every wish to 
be kind, instructive, and explanatory, always contrived to bring 
her away from the objects which most interested her. Ete 
marched her from place to place. There was no lounging, no 
pleasant loitering. No long, sultry day dawdled away in that 



" A Useless Life is an Early Death:* 203 

deep wood at St. Germains. Yet Sylvia fancied tliat she and 
Edmund might have so wasted a day had they two been bride 
and bridegroom. 

Sir Aubrey took his wife to the Theatre Frcm^cda on one soli* 
tary occasion to see MoUeie's Femmea Sa/oantes, but vetoed all 
other theatres as disreputable. 

The weather was sultry daring the greater part of Sylvia's 
honeymoon, and the wide streets of th« wonderful city were dim 
with a warm vapour that whispered of fever and cholera. Sir 
Aubrey's habits were early, and the evening, the only period 
when raris is tolerable in summer time, was a period of impri« 
sonment for Sylvia. She was playing chess with her husband 
in the stifling little saloon by the ught of a pair of wax candles, 
while the city was gay with many voices, and music, and lighl^ 
yonder on the boulevards where the night wind blew freshly, 
and when people who knew how to make the best of life were 
eating ices at the rustic cafi^ in the cascade in the bois. Sylvia 
went back to England with the impression that Paris was a 
splendid city, but not a gay one. 

They returned to Perriam Place, and Sylvia received th^ 
homage and obeisance of the household ; and in the moment of 
that triumph it seemed to her an all-sufficing joy to be mistress 
of Perriam and all these dependants. Whatever surprise these 
domestics had felt at their lord's strange marriage had been 
carefully smoothed out of their faces. They welcomed Jame& 
Carew's daughter as respectfully as they could have welcomed 
Lady Guinivere herself. 

Those improvements and alterations which Sylvia had planned 
with so much satisfaction before her marriage were not yet puf 
in hand. Indeed a very short snace of married life had shown 
Lady Perriam how little power sne had over her lord, and hoii 
little liberty of action she was likely to enjoy ; and, perhaps 
even worse than this, how small was to be ner command of 
money. She knew that hex husband had wealth that exceeded 
his expenditure by tenfold, yet she derived neither pleasure noi 
power from his riches. 

He looked unutterable surprise the first time she asked him 
for money. 

" My dear child, what can yon want with money P " he fiisked, 
%A if they had been on a desert island where the circulating 
medium was useless. 

" I — I should like a little to spend," Sylvia answered child- 
ishly. She had not forgotten that wretched woman in Bell- 
alley, Fetter-lane. Tenderness of heart was not Sylvia's strong 
point, yet it irked her to live amidst all these solid splendours, 
satiated with temporal comforts, and to feel tViat in all likeli- 
hood her mother was starving. 



204 Ibken at the Jblooa. 

**To spend for tlie mere pleasure of spending;** said Sif 
Aubrey, like a wise father — one of dear ifaria Edgeworth's 
model parents, for instance — remonstrating with his little girl. 
" My dear Sylvia, is not l^at rather a childish reason P " 

*'Bat I didn't mean to say that. Of course, I want the 
money, or I shouldn't have asked you for it. I thought you 
would giye me an allowance, perhaps, when we were married/' 

** I have thought of that,** replied Sir Aubrey, as if it were a 
matter demanding profound consideration, " and I intend to do 
so — ultimately. But really your wants must be infinitesimal. 
You have the dresses and other garments you bought before our 
marriage." 

" The dresses are getting shabby," said Sylvia. ** I wore 
them all the time we were in Paris." 

" A month," said Sir Aubrey. ** I have worn this coat nearly 
eighteen months." 

" Then it's time you had a new one," cried Sylvia, sorely 
tried. " But I'll go on wearing my shabby dresses, if you like. 
It doesn't much matter ; I never see any one except you and 
Mordred." 

" I hope you have sufScient respect for me to dress as nicely 
to please me as you would to win the admiration of strangers," 
returned Sir Aubrey, with his offended air, 

" I can't dress nicely without money to buy clothes," replied 
Sylvia. " Women's dresses are not like men's coats — they don't 
wear everlastingly." 

'* Then it's a pity women do not adopt more substantial ma- 
terials. Neither tne linsey-woolseys our grandmothers wore for 
use, nor the brocades which they kept for state occasions, re- 
quired to be renewed every three mouths. The chairs in our 
bedroom are covered with dresses of my grandmothers. How- 
ever, it is not your fault that the age is frivolous, and I can't 
be angry with you for following the fashion of your day. I'll 
give you a cheque for twenty pounds, and before that is gone I 
will arrange your allowance oi pocket money. There, my love, 
don't let me see any more tears m those pretty eyes." 

Sir Aubrey wrote the cheque, and fancied that he had acted 
with supreme liberality. 

Sylvia sent half this money to Mrs. Garford, in the shape of 
a ten-pound note. She bought a dark silk dress with the re- 
maining ten pounds, for, havmg talked of wanting a new dress, 
she was obliged to show Sir Auorey thut she had bought one. 

Shortly an»r this the baronet informed his wife graciously 

that he had decided upon allowing her two hundred a year, pajr- 

able quarterly, for her personal expenditure, and this he evi- 

. dently consiaered a most liberal allowance. Sylvia thanked 

L liim warmly, and was indeed grateful for anything which should 



•*-4 Uselesi Life is an Early Death.** 205 

bo liers without question. All her dreams of refarnishing the 
library, and repmcing the faded curtains in the saloon with 
amber satin, were quite over. She knew that in Sir Aubrey she 
had found a new master. It was a more exalted bondage than 
her servitude to her father, but it was bondage all the same. 



OHAPTEB XXXin. 

"THOU LOOK'sT so LIKE WHAT ONCE WJLS MINE." 

Time wears the beauty off all temporal blessings. That stately 
old yellow chariot, which had been at tirst a source of pride to 
Lady Perriam, by degrees became almost loathsome, so dismal 
were her lonely drives. Sir Aubrey preferred pottering about 
his farms on SpHnter to promenades in the yellow chariot, so 
Sylvia had that equipage to herself and her own thoughts. It 
was like a state prison upon wheels. Beautiful as was the 
scenery round Perriam Sylvia soon grew weary of nature*8 
loveliness. Before she had been a month at the Place she knew 
the landscape by heart, the hill-sides from which she saw the 
distant sea, the ferny lanes down which the great coach went 
staggering and rumbling, into pastoral valleys, whose cob- walled 
cotta.ges looked the chosen abodes of peace and contentment. 

Lady Perriam looked at those rustic houses with a strange 
perplexed feeling. She had not been happy when she lived in a 
cottage, yet now that she inhabited a mansion it seemed to hei 
as if those humbler dwellings must hold the secret of happi- 
ness. She was very lonely. Her lord's society ffave her no 
delight, the park and gardens of Perriam Place became as a 
desert to her wearjr eyes. She paced the Italian terrace day 
after day, and, looking down at the peaceful graveyard below 
the marble balustrade, envied those Perriams who no longer 
knew life's weariness. 

The few county families with whom Sir Aubrey condescended 
to maintain a tepid acquaintance paid their formal visits to the 
new mistress of the Place, and were not a little surprised at tbe 
graceful ease of manner with which Lady Perriam receivec 
them. She was in no wise abashed bv these magnates of the 
land. But others came as well as the county people. Mre. 
Toynbee and her two over-dressed daughters were among tbe 
earliest of Sylvia's visitors. The manufacturer's wife came with 
the intention of patronizing Lady Perriam, Dut was not slow to 



206 Sbien at the Flood. 

discover from fiylvia's icy reception that patronage was noi 
exactly the tone to take here. 

** We always said you would marry well, my dear,** said Mrs. 
T^nbee, almost taking credit to herself for Sylvia's elevation. 
•* You bad an air so far above your station." 

" My father was a gentleman before he was a parish school- 
master," answered Lady Perriam coolly. " I never pretended 
to a higher station than that of a gentleman's daughter." 

" Of course not, my love ; but you know there are lines of 
^marcation. Eveiy one could see how superior you and Mr. 
Carew were, yet the gentrv couldn't associate with you quite on 
equal terms, nowever mucli they might wish it. I'm sure I, for 
one, would have been charmed to have you at my parties— 
quite an ornament to them — but one's friends make such 
remarks if one steps ever so little way over the boundary 
Hue." 

" Yes, Mrs. Toynbee, no doubt persons of your position must 
be punctilious. The trading classes are full of narrow-minded 
prejudices; but with people of Sir Aubrey's rank it is quite 
diiierent. Their position is not dependent on any one's approval 
or opinion. My carriage has been waiting for the last half-hour, 
Mrs. Toynbee," added Lady Perriam, ringing the bell. " Will 
you permit me to wish you good morning? " And the magnifi- 
cent Mrs. Toynbee, the richest woman in Hedingham parish, 
found herself bowed out by the village schoolmaster's daughter. 

"Did you ever see such insolence P" cried this outraged 
female as she spread out her silken flounces in the amplitude of 
their sDlendour, and settled herself in her luxurious landau, new 
from the coach-builder's, and with all the latest improvements 
in landaus. 

" Of course not, ma, but you might have saved us such a 
humiliation if you'd taken my advice," retorted Juliana Toynbee 
acrimoniously. 

" Nasty thing ! " exclaimed Edith, the second sister, meaning 
Lady Perriam. 

** To treat us like that when I was going to be a friend to her, 
out of right down charity," continued Mrs. Toynbee. " What 
can she know about giving dinner-parties, or any of the things 
that become her station P What sne wants is a clever and ex- 
perienced friend at her elbow, to put her in the way of doing 
things in the right style. My dinners have been talked of froni 
one end of the county to the other, and I shouldn't have minded 
any trouble to put her in the right way if she had shown herself 
commonly grateful." 
^ " It isn't in her to be grateful," returned Juliana ; " and as to 
visiting at Perriam, I wouldn't darken her doors if she was to 
•end us a formal invitation once a wet k. Besides, every one 



*• Tho7t Look^st so Like what once W4X8 Mine.** 207 

knows Sir Aubrey is as close as he well can be, and I don't 
suppose she'll ever have the chance of giving parties." 

And thus these ladies drove home, talking of Sylvia all the 
way, very warm as to their tempers, and very flushed as to their 
faces, and it was solemnly voted in the Toynbee household that 
Sylvia, Lady Perriam, was to be counted among the dead. 

The day came when Sylvia was to see Edmund Standcn for 
the first time since that sorrowful parting by the tomb of -ille do 
Bossineys. She heard of his return soon after it happened; 
heard of it from the lips of Mr. Bain, who announced the fact 
carelessly enough, yet contrived to watch the effect of that an- 
nouncement upon Sylvia. One bright hectic spot flamed in the 
delicate cheek, but faded before Sir Aubrey had time to notice it. 

" Mr. Standen has gone into the bank,' said the steward, not 
unwilling to prolong the discussion. ** The Western Union, as 
they call it, since it's been made a joint-stock bank. It has set 

Eeople talking a little. Nobody thought young Standen would 
ave gone into business. He has plenty to live upon, or will have 
after his mother's death, though I believe at present he is quite 
dependent on the old lady." 

"I feel no interest in Mr. Standen or his affairs," remarked 
the baronet, with dignity; so Mr. Bain said no more.' 

For several Sundays after their arrival at the Place SyMa 
and her husband attended the little church in the dell, where a 
mild incumbent performed two services every Sunday, for the 
enlightenment of a sparse congregation drawn from adjacent 
hamlots. Then came a fine sunny Sabbath at the beginning of 
December, and Sir Aubrey proposed that they should gd to 
church at Hedin^ham. " I like Van court's sermons better than 
Bmallman's," said the baronet. " We may as well drive over to 
Hedingham." 

Sylvia felt a kind of catch in her throat, which prevented her 
saying yes or no to this proposition. She should see him again 
then, that Edmond Standen whom she had once sworn to lov/) 
eternally. She dreaded seeing him, yet desired to see him, to 
look on the un forgotten face, were it but for a moment. 

The church looked bright and gay on that wintry morning . 
bright with the cheerful December sunshine. Sir Aubrey owned 
a large square pew in the chancel, which was the most aristo- 
cratic part of the edifice ; a pew plnced as near the altar rails as 
it could be placed, in a manner within the sanctuary ; a pew 
that was sumptuously provided with crimson cushions, luxurious 
footstools, prayer books of largest type, bound in faded crimson 
russia, and emblazoned with the Perriam coat of arms — prayer 
books in which good King Greorge'and a stnng of princes and 
princesses, whose names are history, were prayed for assiduously. 

These chancel fw^wr were <m a -slightly higher le^^V^loSbXw'^^^!^ 



208 Taken at the Flood. 

bodj of the cliarcli, and from Sir Aubrey's pew Sylvia com- 
manded a full view of tbe Dean House party, who occnpied a 
front view in the central aisle. Thev were all there: Mrs. 
Standen; the delicate-looking widow nom Demerara, with a 
little girl of six years old at her side ; Esther, and Edmund ; all 
in mourning, a very sombre-looldng party. 

Not once during the service did Edmund's eyes wander in 
Sylvia's direction, yet she felt that he was aware of her pre* 
sence. Those dark eyes of his were for the most part bent 
rigidly upon his book. Sylvia remembered his old manner, 
wnich, tnough devout, was scarcely so attentive to the mere 
letter of the service. 

Sir Aubrev and his wife left the church by a little side door ; 
it was one of the privileges of the chancel people to use this 
door; but in the churchyard Sir Aubrey was button-holed by a 
brother landowner, and while they were standing in the nan-ow 
path, close by that two well-remembered monument of the de 
Bossineys, Edmund and Esther Eochdale passed them. For 
one moment only the young man looked at Sylvia. Such a 
look ! Contempt so scathing is not often expressed in one brief 
flash from disdainful eyes, one curve of a scornful lip. Deadly 
pale, yet with a look of unshaken firmness, her jilted lover 
mssed her by, and the sharpest pain her heart had power to 
feel Sylvia felt at that moment. 

" I hope I may never see him again," she thought, as the 
yellow chariot bore her back to Pemam ; " never, unless I were 
free to win bac^ his love. I know I could win it, though he may 
dispise me now, if I were only free to try." And she looked at 
Sir Aubrey, and began to speculate how long a man of that age 
might live— five years — ^ten — fifteen — twenty perhaps. Who 
comd tell for what length of years an existence so placid and 
temperate as Sir Aubrey's mignt flow smoothly on P 

Did she wish him dead P Did a thought so dark as to be in 
itself a crime ever enter her heart P It had come but too near 
that with Lady Ferriam. She had never shaped an actual wish, 
but she had calculated the measure of her husband's days, and 
had pictured to herself what might happen when he should take 
his rest with those other Ferriams in the churchyard in that 

freen hollow, where hartstongue fern pushed its curved leaves 
etween the crumbling stones of the old gray wall. 
What a marvellous change that one event of Sir Aubrey's 
death would make in her existence I She would have five thou- 
sand a year, her very own, to squander as she pleased, instead of 
a pittance of two hundred a year doled out to her quarterly. 
And she would be free — free to recover Edmund Standen's love» 
9reav it possible for him io forrive her. 
^ "I don't believe he could be angry intii m^ -^erjVsiL^r ^SSa^ 



" Thou LookUt so Like tohat onde was Min$!^ 200 

thongbt, " or that lie could shut his heart against me. He 
would remember those happy summer evenings. All the past 
would come back to him in a breath, and all his love with it/' 

There was one fear which tortured Sylvia whenever her 
thoughts drifted that way. What if Edmund should marry 
Esther EochdaleP She felt sure that Esther was fond of him. 
She had made up her mind about that long ago ; and it was an 
understood thing in Hedingham, where people knew, or affected 
to know, the most secret desires of their nei ghb ours, that Mrs. 
Standen wished to see those two married. What more likely 
than that she would now try to patoh up an engagement between 
them P 

" His sister will help her no doubt," thought Sylvia, ** and 
between them they will worry him into marrying that litUe dark 
thing.** 

She remembered Esther's winning gentleness, her sofb dark 
eyes with their pensive pleading look ; not a girl against whom 
a man could steel his heart for ever, one might think. 

The idea of this possibility added a new sting to Lady Fer- 
riam's keen regret. It made even the dulness of her life more 
bitter. She was glad to keep Mary Peter in her dressing-room 
for an hour's chat now and then, when that young person 
brought her home some new garment, and to hear her gossip 
about the Hedingham people, and sometimes a Httle ab'^t the 
occupants of Dean House. 

Sir Aubrey happened to interrupt this friendly gossip one day, 
and after Mary Peter had retired, frozen by the baronet's 
urbanity, he expressed himself somewhat strongly upon the 
subject of his wife's familiarity with a village mantua-maker. 

** I was not familiar with her," pleaded Sylvia. " I let her 
talk — that was all." 

" My love, to let a person of that kind tattle is to be familiar 
with her. It presupposes an interest m her conversation which 
t, ought to be impossible for you to feel." 

" She talks about people I used to see before I was married," 
said Sylvia. 

" But with whom you have nothing more to do, and in whom 
your interest ought to have ceased with your marriage. Pray 
never let me see that young woman again." 

•* She makes my dresses, remonstrated Sylvia ; " I don't see 
how I can get on without her." 

" Are you so childish as to suppose that there is only one 
dressmaker at your service P You can have your gowns made 
by Mrs. Bowker, of Monkhampton, a very proper oerson," 

Sylvia sighed and submitted. So M-orj "Sfe\«t , ^^ ^sssv^^Vs^^ 
of Edmund, recalling memories t\ia.\. >weTQi«bl oxiCift«w«!fc*^^^'®^^^v 
wa» baniabed from Perriam Place. lAU\e> a% ^f^V^sv. X^'a^ ^^w^^^ \ 



210 l^ken at the Flood. 

for this humble friend, she felt life more lonely vithotrt hei 
occasional society. Her father was away jstill, rejoicing in the 
sunshine of a warmer sky, on the shores of the Mediterranean, 
just contriving to exist at a third-rate boarding house, on his 
scanty income. He liked the shores of the Mediterranean even 
under the disadvantage of a limited income, much better than 
the village of Hedingham, and had t^o intention of returning to 
English rusticity yet awhile. He wrote to his daughter oc- 
casionally, not forgetting to hint that any addition to Lis 
pittance which she might oe inclined to make would be welcome. 

Sir Aubrey had given one state dinner to those county people 
who had called upon liis wife — a dinner distinguished by a 
solemn splendour, but almost as gloomy as that sepulchral ban- 
quet which the Homan tyrant Domitian gave to his friends, 
where the walls were hung with black, and the paraphernalia of 
death so closely represented, that many of the amiable CsBsar's 
guests swooned away and died in real earnest, slain by the mere 
horror of this ghastly jest. 

After this s&te dinner there were no more gaieties at Ferriam, 
but Sir Aubrey took his lovely young wife to three or four feasts 
of the same Ifind which his friends gave in her honour. This 
constituted Sylvia's brief experience of the polite wwld; for 
now came an event which was to exclude Sir Aubr^ Penriam 
from society for ever. 



CHAPTER XXXrV. 

''so FAIK ▲ FOBH LODGED NOT A MIND 80 ILL.** 

Sylvia had been married six naonths. February, the weariest 
month in a cheerless winter, was dragging slowly to its dismal 
end. A north-east wind shook the casements of Perriam Place. 
The leafless elms in the avenue tossed their ragged branches as 
in the writhings of despair, as if they ejaculated hopelessly, 
" When is warmer weather coming P" ** When are we going to 
bud ? " Even the monkey trees swayed and creaked before the 
blast. Only the cedars stood up, grimly stem, and defied the 
north-easter. 

Very dreary had been that long winter to La4y Perriam. 

After the half-dozen dinner parties given in her huaour at the 

Manor Houses, Granges, and Towers within fifteen miles of Per- 

riam Place there had been no further gaiety of any kind. Even 

Aer aolitajry airinga in the yellow cliario\> ncA '^^u Q^ociXasl^^^^ 



" So fair a form lodged not a Mind so IIV* 211 

the inclemency of the weather. There had been nothing for her 
to do but Weuk about the spacious old house, with its vast, 
empty, useless rooms^ and speculate what it might have been 
under a different master. 

" If fortune had given Edmund and me such a house, with 
Bir Aubrey's wealth, how delightful we would have made it I 
We could nave dlled these dismal corridors with pleasant people, 
and made that vault-like dining-room brilliant with light and 
fire, and bright eyes and jewels, and splendid dresses. Every 
day would have brought some new pleasure." 

This was the drift of Sylvia's fancies very often as she pace^ 
the long music-room — which knew not the sound of music — on. 
wet afternoons, when there was not one gleam of brightness in 
the leaden sky, hardly a glimmer of hope in her own ufe. 

She had thought to taste all the pleasures of the world as Sir 
Aubrey's wife. With the baronet newly subjugated, and at her 
feet, it had seemed such an easy thing to rule him. She had 
hoped for ft slave, and she had found a master; a stricter master 
than her father ; for beneath Mr. Garew's sway she had been able 
to do pretty much as she pleased, so long as she administered to 
sJl his wants and gave nim a wellncooked dinner. With Sir 
Aubrey for her master she had her own way in hardly anything. 

He was not unkind to her; and that made her bondage seem 
all the worse. She had no ground for complaint. Against that 
smooth tyranny rebellion was almost impossible. He forbade 
this, he advised that, but he was always suavity itself. He nar- 
rowed her life into so small a circle that a squirrel in a cage 
might have known as much of liberty. Friends or acquaintance 
she had none ; for the county people who had been willing to 
take her by the hand had all Men away, receiving no encourage- 
ment to be civil. 

That severe winter tried Sir Aubrey's somewhat feeble consti- 
tution. He had a good deal of illness, and the stately gentle- 
man who had seemed such a model of old-fashioned gallantry 
that warm summer afternoon in Mr. Hoplin^'s orchard was 
restless, fretful, and peevish when afflicted with influenza, or a 
mild attack of bronchitis. At these times Sir Aubrey preferred 
the ministrations of Jean Chapelain to those of his young wife, 
yet expected that Sylvia should spend a good deal of her time 
in the sick room, and liked her to read the political articles and 
foreign correspondence in The Ti/mes for his edification. She 
performed all her duties with a tolerable grace ; but weariness 
was in her heart nevertheless. 

But if Sir Aubrey's society was at times a burden almost too 
heavy for impatient youth to bear, Mordred Perriam's dulnewi 
was still harder to be endured. He waa «i xcvot^ ^^Nj^goo:^^ ^srjov-^ 
panion than hia brother, inasmuch, aa \i'ft \»Skft^ % ^^a2«» ^R^- 



212 Taken ai the Flood. 

more. He was fond of talking; and the cliief depriTation dt 
his life hitherto had been the lawck of listeners. He found Silvia 
ooarteonsly attentive to his discourse. She did not wish to be 
mde to her husband's brother. So he at once seized upon her as 
the long-desired listener. He had just sense enough to perceive 
Her intelligence ; and he told himself that his dry-as-dust dis^ 
course would expand and improve her mind. 

*' You are not like ordinaiy jroung women, mj dear," he said* 
when Sjlvia confessed her desire to learn Latm, and to know 
somethmg of the classic writers. ** You can take an interest in 
great subjects." 

Day after day, evening after evening, he twaddled on in the 
uame dull, dry way, shedding no ray of light from his own intel- 
lect upon the pa^es he pored over, and whose contents it was his 
delight to recapitulate. He was always finduig little bits in his 
daily studies which he thought would interest Silvia, and the 
little bits were usually the dullest passages in the prosings of 
some third-rate philosopher — the tritest axioms of mor^ty, 
inflated into importance by grandiloquent langua^. 

When the baronet was conflned to his room, ^ich happened 
often during that doleful winter, Mordred and Sylvia tooK their 
meiils tete'O-tete, in the gloomy dining-room. The mild old 
bookworm would even desert his beloved kitchen garden to take 
his constitutional tn Sylvia's company, shambling up and down 
the terrace, never ceasing from that even flow of prosiness. 
There were moments when Lady Ferriam was wicked enough to 
wish him a sharer in that tranquil silence which ruled among the 
rest of his race in that hallowed ground in the dell. 

Mordred's health was very littiie better than his brother's, but 
being a person of secondary importance the household took less 
notice of his ailments. He grumbled a little about himself from 
time to time; complained of pains here and twitches there; 
now pointed to his chest, and now to his head ; but received 
little more attention from any one than if he had been some 
piece of household machinery slightly out of order. 

" I know I shall die suddenly when my time comes," he said 
one day to Ladjr Perriam. " It may be many years hence " 

" I dare say it will," returned Sylvia, with an involuntary 
sigh. 

" Or it may be much sooner than any one expects ; but I feel 
a conviction that I shall go off without a moment's warning. 
There are a great many cases on record of men who had a pre- 
vision as to the manner of their death. I have my prevision. 
So many twitches and spasms as I suffer must have some signi- 
Scance, It may be that my heart is wrong ; or the seat of 
disease may be in the brain. When you consider the delicate 
ooctions which the spinal marrow haa to periotvi Yiix^^\<^\i\A 



" So Fair a Form lodged not a Mnd so HV* 213 

^e cerebral matter, you can hardly wonder that tlie brain is apt 
to get out of order. When you look at the heart as a compli- 
cated pumping api)aratus which is never permitted to rest, and 
not subject to repair, you cannot wonder that the machinery is 
liable to collapse. I have received warning from both directions, 
and I am prepared for the worst." 

**Mere fancy, I daresay, Mr. Perriam," said Sylva, with the 
Berenity that springs i^m indifference. 

" No, mv dear, it is not fancy. But I am prepared for the 
worst. I have made my wilL" 

*' Indeed," murmured Sylvia, with a shade more interest. She 
thought it just possible tiiat Mordred intended to reward her 
endurance of his dulness by the bequest of his worldly sub- 
stance. 

" Yes. I bequeath my library — nearly five thousand volumes 
of solid and instructive literature — to the Mechanics' Institute 
in Monkhampton. I also bequeath my estate, now yielding two 
hundred per annum, but likely to improve with the lapse of 
years, to trustees, for the benefit of the same institution. They 
will build a wing for the reception of the books ; they will from 
time to time, as funds accrue, collect other books always of a like 
character. They will furthermore employ a librarian K>r the care 
of the aforesaid books and any further collection, as heretofore 
mentioned, at a salary of fifty pounds per annum." 

Mordred was quoting verbatim from the will, a document 
which he kept in his own possession, and perused frequently 
with enjoyment. 

"I have sometimes thought," he added, graciously, "that 
sucn a situation would suit a man of studious habits, Hke your 
father." 

Christmas had been in no wise different from other seasons at 
Ferriam. There was some customary dole eiven to the poor, 
but this was done unobtrusively through the hands of the house- 
keeper, so that the blessings of tha recipients assailed not Sir 
Aubrey's ears. Christmas Day seemed an extra Sunday in the 
week, and that was all. 

It was now two months after Christmas, and Sir Aubrey had 
been more or lesb ailing all the time. The Monkhampton sur* 
ffeon who attended him declared there was no cause for alarm. 
The severe weather had been trying ; Sir Aubrey was a little 
out of sorts, and so on ; but with the coming of spring he would 
doubtless be himself again. Lady Perriam must not fed 
uneasy. 

This Mr. Stimpson, the surgeon, an elderly man who «(4^^ 
high repute in Monkhampton, said to 'LvA'^ 'S^Tfvax&L\kSsc<^^«''^^ 
a cheery confidential tone. . . ^ -« 

^ There is ©o danger then P " 8i;ftkeai4«i.d7 'e«mKPEv'^^'^«°^^ 



"214 TaJcen at the Flood. 

"None whatever; a temporary derangement of the system^ 
nothing more." 

" I am glad to hear that. I have sometimes thonght that Sir 
Anbrej must be seriously ill. His memory seems to fail him a 
little now and then. He repeats things two or three times, and 
does not seem to know that ne has said them before." 

Mr. Stimpson looked a httle grave at this, bnt speedily re* 
covered himself. It is a doctor's duty to be cheerful. He brings 
to bear an amiable gaiety, by way of contrast to the gloom of 
sick-beds and incurable diseases. 

Sylvia sat alone, absorbed in deepest thought for some time 
after the doctor had left her. Sometimes, out of this illness of 
Sir Aubrey's, piercing the doleful shadows of the sick-room, 
there had arisen, pale with distance, the star of an unholy hop^ 
What if the end were nearer than she had ever deemed possible P 
What if her husband were doomed to die ere very long and 
leave her free to marry Edmund Standen P 

In her young life death had been, as yet, a stranger. She 
could not think of that dreadful presence as calmly as some to 
whom the fatal visitant has grown a familiar guest. She thought 
with a shudder of the dark gulf, the mysterious, impenetr^le 
grave, which lay between her and liberty. Sir Aubrey had been 
a tyrant, but at the worst an unconscious despot. He had never 
been intentionally unkind. He had tried to shape the young, 
bright life to fit his own placid existence, had stifled all the 
natural aspirations of joy-loving youth, had made Sylvia's days 
a burden to her; ^et, after his own fashion, he had been kind. 
It seemed almost impossible that she should wish for his death. 

" I do not wish him dead," she said to herself, when that pos- 
sible release presented itself like a hope, " but, if he dies, I snail 
win my love back again — ^my first and only love. I will make 
him forgive me, though I have sinned against him so deeply. I 
will make him trust me again, although I have been so false. I 
know that I have power to win him back." 



OHAPTEE XXXV. 

STRICKEN DOWN. 



In the early part of March Sir Aubrey left his room. He was 
Aoir pronounced well enouc^h to spend a few hours in th^ saloon 
"itaHy, and even to take a snort drive in the yellow chariot on a 
mumy day, when the wind was in a eeimBY (vaax\«t. 
Se waa very glad to avail Ydmaeu oi \ln^w ^fcrCkft^l^'ft^ ijsA 



Stricken Dovm, 215 

made haste to abandon his invalid habits, dressed himself ai 
carefully as ever, and reappeared with that gracious and patri- 
cian aspect which made mm look like one of Vandyke's portraits 
in modem dostume. 

He thanked Sylvia courteously for her attention to him dur- 
ing his illness, and was kinder than usual to her, forbearing to 
criticise her conduct in trifles, and to lecture. 

" My dear," he said, " I have given you no present since I 
put my mother's diamond keeper upon your finger. It belonged 
to her mother's mother, you know, and has a higher value from 
association than from liie worth of the stones, which are of the 
purest water, but smalL" 

Sylvia gave a little r^retfal sigh. She had once supposed 
that diamond hoop to be the forerunner of a shower of gifts, 
plenteous as that golden rain which descended on Danae. 

" I have not given you jewels, Sylvia, partly because I do not 
care to see a woman bedizened with precious stones, but more 
because I do not wish to be associated in your mind with rich 
gifts. When I am dead and gone you will be rich — rich enough 
to be a prize for some adventurer, should you be so foolish as to 
marry again." 

Hereupon Sir Aubrey opened an oval morocco case, in which 
reposed on black velvet a necklace of single diamonds, each as 
large as a prize pea. The silver setting was so light as to be 
hanlly visible. The necklace seemed a circlet of liquid light. 

. JSf*^* '^""^ ®^' ^^^ * '^ "^ "^^ '"^™" 

and delignt. 

** How lovely ! '* she exclaimed. 

" It is yours, my love," answered the baronet, in his placid 
way. " I boug^ht the necklace for a duke's daughter ; but death 
stole my promised bride. I give it now to my true and kind 
wife." 

Lady Ferriam, not easily melted, burst into tears. 

'* God keep me true to you, in thought and in deed," she cried 
passionately. " But I am not worthy of your kindness." 

" You have been my patient nurse, my faithful companion," 
answered Sir Aubrey, gently. " Dry your tears, my dear. A 
diamond necklace is not a thin^ to cry about." 

'* I am very proud of your gifb, it is more splendid than any- 
thing I ever dreamed of. But it is your kincbiess that touches 
me," said Sylvia. 

She had remembered how mean she had thought him because 
he had doled her out a small allowance of pocket money ; how 
^e had ascribed the dreariness of her life to his desire to save 
expenditure, and, behold, he threw a gift ^ot\kL \hiQ(^^a»:o^ \s^f^ 
her lap ae carelessly as if it Taa4 "V»ea ^ \mmAIv\ ^^ «sas5asi» 

hlOBBOmSf 



216 Taken at the Flood. 

**\(\icn shall I wear these diamonds?" she aalced lienelf— 
or rather inquired of destiny — as she clasped the necklace aronnd 
her throat before the glass in her dressing-room. " Perhaps, if 
Sir Anbrey is inclined to be indulgent, he will take me to Lon- 
don this year, and let me be presented, and see the world. It is 
hard to have wealth, and jewels, and a title, and youth, and 
good looks, and yet to be buried alive at Perriam Phice." 

The next day was the brightest of the new year, but Sii 
Aubrey protested against the yellow chariot when Mr. Stimp« 
son, who was still in attendance, recommended a quiet drive. 

" I detest bein^ shut up in a coach," he said. " I'd rathei 
take a little walk m the garden with Lady Perriam." 

*' So be it, then," replied the doctor, who wished to make hid 
regimen agreeable to so profitable a patient. '* I don't know 
that a walk mightn't be better than a drive. Only be sure you 
don't fatigue yourself. Just a gentle stroll up and down the 
terrace, in the sunshine, with Lady Perriam's arm for a support." 

It was about three o'clock in the afternoon when Sir Aubrey 
and his wife went out for this promenade. A brig[ht, tranquil, 
spring-like afternoon, only the gentlest west wind famtlv stirring 
Ine evergreens, a calm blue sky with fleecy clouds, and a gentS 
sunshine upon the landscape. There had oeen much rain hitely, 
and the pastures looked emerald bright against the dark arable 
lands, while here and there the first tiuge of green showed 
faintly on the southward-fronting hedgerows. 

" A beautiful world, my dear." said Sir Aubrey, as he sur- 
veyed the varied prospecii. "I have seen a good deal of it, but 
I have found nothing so good as Perriam." 

" Perriam is very nice," replied Sylvia, meekly. " But you 
will show me a little more of the world some day, won't yon. 
Sir Aubrey P" 

" Yes, my love, we will travel a little more by-and-by, when I 
am stronger. I wish your life to be happy. I fear you have 
had rather a dull winter. . But then happily you are not used 
to society." 

" No, answered Sylvia. ** Perhaps that's why I long for it 
more than other people." 

** True, the unknown is ever delightful. You remember what 
Pope says : * Man never is, but always to be blessed.' " 

" I hate Pope," replied Sylvia impatiently, upon which Sir 
Aubrey gave ner a brief lecture on the folly of hating a poet 
whose philosophy is as correct as his versification. 

The effort appeared to exhaust him, for he drooped a little on 
his second perambulation of the terrace. 

" I am not so strong as I fancied myself this morning/' he 
said ; " I feel a little shaky in spite of &e support of jonr ana. 
VU go back to the house after this turn ." 



Stricken Down. 217 

ITiey lingered a little for Sir Aubrey to rest on the Bpot where 
iLev had stood when he asked Sylvia to be his wife. Sir Aubrey 
looked down at the little green charchyard with a dreamy gaze. 
The very spirit of tranquillity pervaded the scene. The gray 
old church-tower, with its quaint corbels and water-spouts and 
varied tints of moss and lichen, stood out clearly defined against 
the clear cold sky. Death wore its softest aspect in that placid 
valley. 

Mild as the atmosphere was the invalid shivered. 

" I'll ^o indoors, my love," he said ; " I am not strong enough 
for walking yet." 

They went back to the house, Sir Aubrey leaning a little on 
Sylvia's arm, and sighing once or twice during the journey, as 
if it were rather a troublesome business. The invahd returned 
to his easy chair by the fire in the saloon, where Sylvia gave 
him his book, a volame of the '* Spectator," whose leaves he 
turned listlessly now and then, readmg a page here and thero^ 
and smiling faintly at the familiar passages, or murmuring a 
quotation at the nead of an essay. She arranged the httle 
table by his chair, on which he kept a book or two, the day's 
newspapers, and a glass of weak sheny and water, and then 
prepared to take her place on the opposite side of the hearth, 
where it was her wont to beguile the slow hours with fancy 
work. Novels, and, indeed, modem light literature of all kinds, 
Sir Aubrey set his face against ; thus woman's favourite amuse- 
ment was, in a manner, forbidden to Lady Ferriam. 

But the baronet begged his wife to enjoy the aftemoon sun- 
bhine. "Finish your walk, my dear," he said graciously ; "you 
can come back to me when you are tired of the terrace. I am 
always glad to have you near me, but you have been too long a 
prisoner." 

Sylvia obeyed. She was very tired of that spadous saloon, 
with its unchanging splendour — chairs and tables always in the 
same positions — no variety, no look of life or movement. She 
was glad to be alone with her own thoughts, which of late had 
taken shapes that disturbed ana perplexed her. Sir Aubrey's 
unsettled health gave rise to agitating conje<%tures. She knew 
very well that there was guilt in many of these meditations. 
But she had never acquired the habit of ruling her own 
thoughts; she let them drift as they would, and the ima^e 
which oftenest filled her mind was the image of one whom it 
was the first duty of her life to forget. 

She walked to and fro for about an hour, and was beginning 
to think of returning to her post by the fireside and her duties 
of nurse and comfoiter, when she heard a diatojil ^\«^ ^^ **^ea 
gravel walk, firm, light, and quick — a sUs^ \3ml\. xetKcciSifi^V^t ^^ 
mmimd Standeu's. She knew that t\i© a^^ wo^^ \Mb!^&l x^ 



218 Talten at the Flood. 

his. Mr. Standen's presence in tliat place scarcely eamo withiii 
tbe limits of the possible ; yet the sound set her heart beating 
vehemently, so weak was tnat undisciplined heart. 

She waUced towards the other end of the terrace, and saw the 
well-known figure of Mr. Bain, the lawyer. He had been away 
from Monkhampton for nearly a month, in the south of France, 
with his ailing wife, whom the doctors had ordered to the shores 
of the Mediterranean as her sole chance of surviving the severe 
winter. Difficult as it was for Shadrach Bain to leave businesi^ 
he had performed his duty as a husband, escorted his wife to 
Cannes, and stayed with her until her health had been in some 
measure re-established. Monkhampton had been loud in its 
praises for this domestic loyalty, though some among his clients 
had grumbled a little at the loss of their astute adviser. 

It had been no small relief to Sylvia to escape the searching 
gaze of those keen eyes. From the very beginning of her 
acquaintance with Shadrach Bain Sylvia had felt that here was a 
man who was in the habit of looking deeper than the surface of 
things, and that she had need to guard her secret thoughts 
against his watchfulness. He had always been courteous to her 
— nay, had evinced the most profound respect by his every word 
and action. Yet, knowing no more of him than that he was a 
eood man of business, and a trusted agent of Sir Aubrey's, she 
felt an undefinable fear of his influence. Or, in a word, she 
fancied that he knew her. 

He approached her with his usual grave politeness — not cere- 
monious — ^but gravely respectful. 

" Good afternoon, Ladj Perriam. I have just been with Sir 
Aubrey. He has been kind enough to ask me to stay to dinner 
— and as the dew is falling, he suggested that I should request 
you to come indoors." 

"There is no dew yet awhile," answered Sylvia, somewhat 
impatiently. Sir Aubrey had a tiresome way of ordering her 
about through the medium of Mr. Bain. " I shall walk a little 
longer." 

''May I be your companion during that timeP" asked Mr. 
Bain. 

"I have no objection," replied Sylvia, coldly. She would 
have given a great deal to keep Mr. Bain for ever outside the 

fates of Perriam — ^yet, subservient as he appeared, she felt that 
e was just the kind of man to make her pay dearly for 
mciviuty. 

** Your permission sounds almost like an interdict," said the 
Agent, " yet I will venture to remain. Sir Aubrey must have 
been very jH while I was in France." 
^'Not worse than he has been several ^imft^VHa-^Npiftx.** 
Indeed Yet I gee so marked a claaaig,© Va.\iMn.. \ ^ot^V 



#y 



Stricken Down. 21^ 

know how to describe it, but it struck me at the first glance, and 
I was pained to perceive it." 

" Do you think he is dangerously illP *' asked Sylvia, turning 
upon him with a quick, bri^t li^ht in her eyes. 

** Ko, Lady Perriam. I do not think there is much danger of 
your being left a widow yet awhile," answered Mr. Bain, with 
inscrutable gravity. 

" You reiSly fr^fhtened me with your talk about a change in 
Sir Aubrey. I can see no change mvself— and Mr. Stimpson 
says he is improving daily — ^tnat tnere is nothing wanted 
but the warm weather to make him quite well and strong • 
again." 

'* I am glad Mr. Stimpson is so hopefuL The change whicK 
struck me so painfully was perhaps more in Sir Aubrey's 
manner than his appearance — ^there was an altered tone — a 
feebler manner — an indecision about everything he said. I was 
talking to him nearly an hoar about business, and I had plenty 
of time to observe him. In a word, he is not the man I left less 
than a month ago." 

Sylvia was sifent. She remembered her own discovery of Sir 
Aubrey's uncertain memory— ^that almost childish habit of re- 
peating his speeches. Did death begin his insidious work thus 
in the slow decline of th.e faculties P Sir Aubrey was hj no 
means an old man. It was not time for memory to grow dim — 
for sight to fail — for hearing to grow faint. 

"Let us go back to the house," said Lady Perriam. "If 
once Sir Aubrey gets that idea of dew into his head, he will 
fidget himself till I am indoors." 

" You have reason to be proud of such thoughtfolness on his 
part," remarked Mr. Bain. 

" Yes, it's very kind — ^but rather tiresome," returned Sylvia, 
who was more candid with Mr. Bain in trifles than with other 
people — ^having that inward conviction that he could see through 
small artifices. 

She went back to the saloon before ^ing upstairs to dress for 
dinner — ^went back dutifully, to see if her husband had any 
further need of her attendance. Though there had been still a 
soft gray light in the garden, here in the saloon reigned deepest 
dusk, BO much of the waning day was excluded by the draperies 
of those seven ta<ll windows. The seven windows looked white 
and wan in the twilight, like seven tall ghosts. The fire had 
burned low, and only sned a ruddy glow u^on the hearih. 

Lady Perriam stood by the door looking m, Mr. Bain standing 
just behind her. Sir Aubrej sat with his arm hanging looeel^ 
across the arm of the chair, bia laeaA ^m^ \5!w3bl ^j^gi^^ *^^ 
ousbioBB, an open book at \ub feeV "B^ \x^^ ^sJSkSii. ^sStf^^'.^^ 
doubt I 



220 Taken at the Flood. 

"I won't disturb him/' said Sylvia. "Mr. Stimpaon said 
rest was of great importance." 

" I think I'd better replenish the fire,** siiegested Mr. Bain. 
" It will go ont directly if it isn't attended to. 

He went sofdy towards the hearth, Sylvia still waiting near 
the door, to see if that replenishing of the fire wonld awaken Sir 
Anbrey. 

Mr. Bain knelt down, and pnt a conple of dry logs gently on 
the ashes. The dry wood began to spntter and cracHe imme- 
diately. An ornamental brass screen, wide and tall, guarded 
the invalid from those flying sparks of burning wood. 

The recumbent figure never stirred. Mr. Bain, still on his 
knees, looked round at his employer. The dry logs burst into a 
sudden blaze which lighted all the room, and shone full upon 
Sir Aubrey's face. One quick, startled look at that face, and 
the agent sprane to his feet, and pulled the bell rope till a loud 
peal sounded through the house. Then he bent over that 
motionless figure, loosened the neck-doth, raised the head, all 
quietly enough, Lady Ferriam looking on all the while, with 
terror in her colourless face. She had rushed to the hearth when 
Mr. Bain rang the bell. 

'* Do you think he is dead P " she asked, in an awful whis- 
per. 

" ITo, I can feel the beating of his heart. Send a messenger 
to Mr. Stimpson on the fastest horse in the stables," continued 
Mr. Bain to the servant who appeared in answer to his loud 
summons. " If Mr. Stimpson is out when he gets to Monkhamp- 
ton, let him fetch Dr. Cardross — ^if he's out, let him go on to mx. 
Byfield. He must ride for his life, mind, and not lose a minute 
in getting off. And let another messenger — John Bates, he is a 
shaip feflow — ^o to Dr. Topsail, of Hedingham. Sir Aubrey 
has an attack — I fear paralysis. Tell someone to fetch 
Chapelain." 

Chapelain, the valet, had heard that shrill peal of the bell» 
and was by his master's side before the other servant had left 
the room. There was no time lost. Mr. Bain and the valet laid 
Sir Aubrey on a sofa, in the most comfortable position they 
could place him in, and this done, there was little more to do 
than wait the coming of medical aid. Ferriam Flace stood mid* 
way between Monkhampton and Hedingham. Either way the 
messenger would have tnree miles to ride, the doctor three mUes 
to come. 

" There's no hope of anything being here under an hour," 
said Mr. Bain, who had been wonderfally self-possessed through- 
ot 
JMj Ferriam sat like a statue, liaxdly le^« ^hitA than the 

' tor^B marble. Her eyes aloue move^ a».^\3a»^\»^\»^Wi.^«i- 



saia 



Sificken Dowl^ 221 

img restlessly irom the prostrate form upon the sofa bo the 
anxious faces of aeent and valet. 

"Is there any dan&;erP " she asked, always referring to tha/ 
one» last, awful hazard of death. She had wished her nusbanC 
dead, but the wish had been but a va^ue thought. She shrank 
appalled from the realization of that half-formed desire. There 
is something peculiarly awful in a wicked wish being gratified 
almost as soon as it is formed. It is like the direct interposition 
of Satan. 

" A first attack is rarely fatal," answered Mr. Bain, as calmlj 
as if he had been a physician of long practice. " There is ever^ 
reason to hope that Sir Aubrey ma^^ oe quite restored in a few 
days. But it is rather alarming wmle it lasts." 

" AJarming ! *' echoed Lady Pernam. " It is horrible. Is he 
quite insensible, do you think P " 

" I am not sure. He seems half asleep. I'm afraid this arm 
is paralyzed. It hangs so helplessly." 

** And is so cold," said the valet, who was on his knees by the 
sofa, chafing the lifeless hand. 

The dreary hour of waiting wore on, Sylvia sitting silent and 
unobtrusive, Mr. Bain and the valet doing what little they 
could, yet afraid to do much lest they should do the wrong 
thing. The ticking of the clock on the chimney-piece, the wood 
ashes falling lightiy on the hearth, and Sir Aabrey's troubled 
breathing were the only sounds that broke the mournful 
•ilence. 

By-and-by, after half an hour's waiting, which had seemed 
half a day to the watchers, the7 were stajiled by feeble, half- 
articulate sounds. They came from the pale Hps of Sir Aubrey, 
who was striving painfully for speech. 

When he did speak, after that laborious effort, his voice was 
dull and hollow. So mi^ht Lazarus have spoken when he came 
out of the cavern at his Master's bidding. To Sylvia those 
strange tones sounded like the voice of the re-arisen dead. 

"Have I been asleep P" asked Sir Aubrey, in imperfectly 
formed syllables, as if in awful mockery of a child's first efforts 
to shape the words he hears from others. 

•* Yes, Sir Aubrey." 

"Very long P" 

" For some time." 

The dim gray eyes looked wonderingly about. 

" Why, is it dark ahready P Why don't they light the lampsP •* 

"We thought this subdued light was better for you, Sir 
Aubrey." 

" Better for me ! I'm not an invalid — ^I don't mean ta \» ^sl 
invalid any more," mumbled the baronet^ «2L^Bi5^^w^^)c^*OaA ^»saA 
9Sortt the same uncertain articu\a\ioxu 



^ 



222 Taken at the Mood. 

They did their best to prevent him talking much, ur ezdtiliff 
himself; but, in trying to raise himselt presently, he diiscovered 
that one side of his body was immovable ; the left leg as weU as 
the left arm appearing powerless. 

" What is this P" he asked, more distinctly than he had spoken 
before, as if terror gave force to his accents. "I canH move; 
I've lost the use of one side. What does it mean P " 

Neithei the agent nor the valet answered this amdons ques- 
tion. They looked at each other doubtfally. The valet mur- 
mured some soothing speech in his own tongue. 

" I know what it means," said Sir Aubrey ; " it is paralysis, 
the one. disease I have dreaded ever since I saw mv grandfather 
wheeled about Perriam in a Bath chai.:, with his head hanging 
on one side, when I was a little boy. And yet I hardly thought 
it would seize me. I thought Mordred might be stricken ; he 
has always been a weak, ailing creature. I never thought I 
should be the one." 



OHAPTBB XXXVX 

LLDY FEBBIAM ENGAGES A SICK KURSB. 

Ms. Stimpso^ came in a little less than an hour from the time 
when the messenger started in quest of him. The man had 
found him at home, and the ola surgeon had driven over to 
Perriam as fast as a good horse and a ught ^g would take him. 
He made his examination, ordered the invaUd to be taken up to 
his bedroom, and suggested an immediate telegram to a famous 
London physician. 

" We must have Grow down to-morrow," he said confiden* 
tially to Mr. Bain, when he had assisted at Sir Aubrey's removal, 
and seen him made comfortable in the vast four-post bed, which 
had the grandeur and funereal gloom of a catafalque. " The 
case is serious, and we must have a good nurse," he added, in a 
louder tone. 

Lady Perriam, Mr. Bain, and the docter were all in the dress- 
ing-room adjoining Sir Aubrey's bed-chamber. 

" Cannot I nurse my husband P " asked Sylvia. "He likes 
me to be with him." 

** As his companion, no doubt — ^but to attempt anything more 
his present state would he to impair your own health. We 
iBtget some reh'able person to be m constant attendance upon 
Aabrey. His valet, of co\u:ae» will \>e «l\A^ t^ do a ^ooddeal 




Lady Perriam engages a Sick Nune. 223 

— bnt a woman will be wanted as well. I know what ordinary 
lervants are ; they soon ^et tired of sick-rooms," 

A curious look flashed mto Lady Perriam's face. It had been 
cold and expressionless till this moment. 

**I think 1 know of a person in London who would do," she 
said, quickly. 

" Has she had any experience as a sick nurse P " 

" Oh yes — she has had experience. Shall I write to engage 

" It would be better to telegraph," answered Mr. Stimpson 
** I can take the message, if you'U be so good as to write it." 

" No, I*d rather write to her. She'll want money for travel- 
ling expenses. I can enclose a bank-note in my letter." 

" Would it not be wiser to get some one from Monkhampton P" 
suggested Mr. Bain. ^ 

** I do not know any one in Monkhampton, and I do know 
this person in London," said Lady Perriam, looking at the 
doctor, and not at Mr. Bain. ** If my husband is to have a 
nurse, I should like her to be a nurse ot my choice, rather than 
any one else's." 

This was her first defiance of Mr. Bain, and, trivial as the 
occasion seemed, Sylvia felt that it was not without its signifi- 
cance. She had an inward conviction that Shadrach Bain 
wanted to be master in that house ; aspired, in his presumption, 
to rule her even. Sir Aubre]^'s helplessness laid the household 
in a manner at the agent's feet. How, therefore, was the time 
for her to assert her supremacy. 

** I'll write to this person, Mr. Stimpson," she add^, without 
ont*^ looking at Mr. Bain, yet feeling that those cold gray eyes 
were watchmg her. " You may consider that matter settied." 

** V"ery well, Lady Perriam. We must contrive to get on till 
she conaes down. You are sure she is en)erienced P " 

** Quite sure. Do you suppose I would engage her if it were 
otherwise P " 

" Certainly not. Lady Perriam. Only your own experience of 
illness has been happily so shght. What is this woman's name^ 
by the way ? " 

" Carf--Carter," replied Lady Perriam. 

Mr. Bain observed the hesitation, and a bright red spot that 
kindled in the cheek of the speaker and slowly faded. 

The feeble steps of shuffling, slipshod feet sounded without, 
the door opened, and Mordred Perriam came into the room, 
carrying an old-fashioned silver candlestick, with a guttering 
candle that had burned almost to the socket. It was one of the 
absent-minded bookworm's habits to let his candles bum do^KisL 
to the socket, and to let his fire go o\i\.\i«I^i %. ^wATv^Asassa. ^^^Vr 
CttBtom had made him independent oi »er?«xiX»^«3tt.^V^ ^^Sft^gs^ss^- 



2S4 Ihken at the Flood. 

his own hre, and bad a stock of candles at hand to fiU the empty 
oandlesticks. No one ever gave less trouble in a honsdiold thaa 
harmless Mr. Perriam. 

As he came into the dimlj^ lifi^hted room with the yellow glare 
of that flaming candle on his face, the same thoneht entered 
the minds of Sylvia and Mr. Bain. Tbev were botn alike im- 
pressed bv the awfnl resemblance which Sir Anbrey*8 coun- 
tenance, changed as it was by the paralytic stroke, bore to the 
face of his younger brother. That painfal change which had 
aged the elder man by ten years, made the brouiers as much 
aBke as if they had been twins. 

Mordred stared at the three occupants of the room in a help- 
less agitated way for a minute or so before he spoke. 

" Is there anything wrong ? " he asked at lisi, ** Has any- 
thing happened? It's eight o'clock, and the dinner-bell hasn't 
rang/' 

^ " X ou had better dine in your own room to-night, Mr. Per- 
riam," answered Shadrach Bain ; " your brother is very ilL" 

" Is he worse than he was this morning P" 

" Much worse," said Mr. Stimpson, and then he told Mordied 
about the seizure. 

" Why wasn't I sent for P" asked Mordred, piteously. 

" You would have done no good," replied Mr. Bain, with his 
practical air. " Don't agitate yourself, Mr. Perriam. Sir 
Aubrey will be all right in a day or two, I daresay." 

"Is he in there P" inquired Mordred, pointing to the open 
door of the bedroom. 

•* Yes, but you'd better not disturb him," said the doctor. 
*' Ghapelain is with him, and he has fallen into a doze. Quiet 
18 a grand point — supreme quiet. No one must go in and out 
but Lady Perriam." 

" Very well; I will do whatever is best, though I should like 
to see him," said Mr. Perriam, with resi^ation, yet dobrously. 
" But please don't keep me away from hun longer than is neces- 
sary. I am very fond of my brother; indeed I have reason to 
be so, for he is the only friend I have." 

Mr. Stimpson said something reassuring. 

•* Would there be any objection to my sitting here for an hour 
or two?" inquired Mr. Perriam ; " I shall not make any noise. 
I won't speak a word, so I don't think I can disturb my poor 
brother. I should like to feel that I was near him." 

" I see no objection," said Mr. Stimpson, " unless Lady Per- 
riam " he added vaguely, appealing to Sylvia. 

** I have no objection to Mr. Perriam steying here," she said 
carelesBij, She considered Mordred Perriam of little more im- 
portaace than a piece of animated fuTmWte — wearisome on 
ikfetojsdons, bat hardly worthy of conaidenWoiv «A» ^jq.^ \1\\sl<^ "^Sw 



Lady Perriam engages a Sick Nwrse. 225 

eonld matter very little whether he were in one room or another. 
Mordred stayed, therefore, seated in a warm chair by the hearth, 
rubbing his withered old hands, and shivering a Httle now and 
then, or occasionally breatiiing troubled sighs. Mr. Stimpon 
departed, after promising to telegraph to a London physician 
directly he got back to Monkhampton, promising also to be at 
Perriam Place by eight o'clock next momingL Mr. Bain went 
downstairs with the doctor, but declared his intention of remain- 
ing at Perriam till a late hour. 

" I have no patients waiting for me," he said, ** so I'll stay 
as long as I can and see how Sir Aubrey goes on. You mi&^lit 
call at my door as you go by, and tell my daughters what has 
happened, Stimpson. Thej might be alarmed if I were later 
than they' expected." 

Mr. Stimpson promised to do his neighbour this kindness. 
Mr. Bain went inix) the dining-room, where all was laid ready for 
Sir Aubrey's small family. There were the three covers set 
forth wich accustomed pomp, far apart on the Great Sahara of 
table-cloth. Mr. Bain rang the bell with an air of being quite 
at home. 

** Bring me some dinner," he said to the butler. ** And you'd 
better send a tray up to Lady Peniam's dressing-room. She 
won't come down stairs any more this ev^ing, I daresay." 

Pady Perriam was in no humour for refreshment of a substan- 
tial character. She told the servant to bring her some tea and 
take the dinner-tray away. 

She was writing a letter when the maid went in with the tea- 
things. Sir Aubrey's dressing-room opened out of the bedroom 
on one side, and on the other communicated with that narrow 
passage which led to Mordred's apartments. Lady Perriam's 
dressing-room was a small oak-panelled chamber on the other 
side of the bed-room, a chamber that in days gone by had been 
used as an oratory by a certain Lady Perriam of Boman Catholic 
faith and Jacobite leanings. It was a narrow ^lip of an apart- 
ment, with a small fireplace in one of the angles, like those one 
Bees in some of the closets at Hampton Court. Three dark blue 
oriental jars adorned the high narrow chimney-piece, a fine 
carving of the Perriam coat of arms stood boldly out upon the 
time-darkened panel above them. Sombre ^een damask cur- 
tains shrouded the one narrow window and its deep-cushioned 
window-seat. The wash-stand and dressing-table of darkest 
mahogany, were small and inconvenient. A Chippendale pem- 
broke table, with the famous claw and ball feet, filled the centre 
of the room, a tall narrow wardrobe occupied the end wall, and, 
with a secretaire and two roomy old arm-chairs, <io\xi^\a\fc^*Cas^ 
furniture of the apartment. Seen "by l\ift\\^\. o^ V«^ *^s^ ^"^"^^ 
iXiea Lady Perridm'a dressing-roomL had a BOTO<iWcva\» ^ocyco^i ^ 



226 Taken at tie Flood. 

One miglii fttncy one oi tbe State prisons of thQ Tower— tliat 
room, forlnstance, where Sir Thomas Overbnry was done to 
death — about as lively of aspect. 

Sylvia was deeply absorbed in that letter, so deeply that she 
seemed hardly aware of the servant's entrance with the dainty 
little silver tea-tray, though the maid, . perhaps out of kindly 
concern for her mistress, possibly oiit of curiosity, lingered a few 
minutes to stir the fire, and to curaw those heavy curtains a little 
closer. 

The letter ran thus :— 

PXBBIAA Pl«AOB, near MOHKHAMPTOir, 

March 9tk, 

Dear Mrs. Oarford, 

I find it in my power to provide at least a temporary home 
for you, if you are able to fulfil the duties which will be required 
of you in the position I can offer. In your struggles to obtain a 
livmg you may have sometimes been employed as a sick nurse. 
If that is the case, and you feel yourself able to nurse and wait 
upon an elderly gentleman who has just been rendered helpless 
by a paralytic stroke, I can engage you as an attendant upon 
my husband, Sir Aubrey Perriam. But it must be understood 
if you come here that you will say nothing about your past life 
to any member of this household, and that you will keep the 
strictest silence upon anything you may happen to know about 
my father. I offer you this opportunity out of compassion fo^ 
your sad state, and nope you wul give me no reason to repent 
my confidence. 

I enclose a ten-pound note to enable you to provide yourself 
with decent clothes, and to pay your travelling expenses. Please 
to buy a ready-made outfit, and come by the first train that wiU 
bring you conveniently after your receipt of this letter. 

If questioned as to your qualification as a sick nurse, you must 
reply that you have had ample experience, but you need give no 
details. When you arrive here you will inquire for Lady Per- 
riam, and you will call yourself Mrs. Carter, as I imagine yoA 
would hardly like to be known by the name that belonged to you 
in better days. 

Yours truly, 

Silvia Perriam — late Carew. \ 

This letter addressed and sealed, Lady Perriam looked at her 

watch. There was just time for a groom to catch the Monk- 

hampton post, which did not go out till half-past nine o'clock. 

It now wanted a quarter to nine. She rang, and gfive the maid 

the letter, with strict orders that it should be taken to Monk? 

Aawpton without a moment's delay. Tlae m^.\9L Y^oiDaa^ obedi- 

fiflce. This baalneBa despatched, S^^Vna 3ae^ Vw <5tMKa Na ^^ 



Lady Terriam engages a Sick Nurse. 22? 

fiieside, and sat looking at the mddy logs on the low hearth, and 
meditating on the step she had jnst taken. 

" Have I done wisely, I wonder P " she asked herself. *' Surely 
a woman who has suffered what thi^ poor oreatnre has jo^on^ 
throngh must have learned to keep her own connsel. It u an 
act of charity to give her a good home, and the day may come 
when I shall have need of a friend." 

Sylvia had hardly thought of her sick hushand while engaged 
in writing this letter. She rose presently, opened the door be- 
tween the two rooms, and looked into the baronet's bed-chamljer.. 

Sir Aubrey lay in a dose, the fitful firelight now shining on 
his pale, altered face, now sinking into shadow. Ghapelain sat 
in a comfortable chair by the bed, reading the newspaper by the 
light of a shaded lamp, which was screened from the mvalid by 
the heayy bed curtain. On the hearthrug crouched the figure 
of Mordred Perriam. He had crept in from Sir Aubr^'s 
dressing-room, noiselessly as a dog, and had been permitted to 
remain, unnoticed and unreproved. 



OHAPTBB XXXVII. 

DA. CiLOVs OPINIOH. 

Dr. Crow, the London physician, appeared at Perriam in the 
dusk of the following afternoon. He was the great man for all 
patrician ailments, having as it were a divs^e right to cure the 
aristocracy, landed and commercial, the episcopacy, and the 
bench, or, if incurable, to usher them decorously across life's 
mystic threshold to the unseen land beyond it. He was a 
equare-built, genial-looking gentleman, witii an ample brow, a 
large massive^ly moulded face, and dark eyes, whose fusire years 
of closest study and hardest work had not extinguished. 

He had come more than two ]iundred miles to see Sir Aubrejf, 
but a quarter of an hour in the sick-room, and ten minutes, m 
ix)nsuItation with Mr. Stimpson, comprised all the tiiiie that he 
devoted to the consideration of the oase. What he said in those 
ten minutes no one kn&n but Mr. Stimpson. But a& \skft ts^^^ 
from the dressing-room where that "bnai «>iil«t«w»\i»^\3Rw^ 
hel^ Lady Perriam emerged from t\ie e^isAo^ Qaitoaw?i» ^v ww 
corridor to intercept the great phymciasi* 



228 Hhken at the Mood. 

Dr. Craw ^ve a little surprised look at sight of so fair a 
Creature in uiat gloomy old nouse, whose unbroken quiet had 
struck him as almost sepulchral. 

" Is there any hope P Sylvia asked eagerly. 
' The doctor replied dubiously, in those smooth placid tones 
which tell so little to the anxious ear. 

''My dear young lady, I am not without hope that your 
father^s life " 

•* Husband's/' murmured Mr. Stimpson in the physician's ear. 

Dr. Grow gave another surprised look, but went on unfalter- 



"€*^ 



^hat your husband's life may be prolonged, perhaps for 
many years." 

" But will he get well again P " 

"Nay, my dear madam, there is no reason that his bodily 
health should not improve, with careful nursing," replied Dr. 
Crow. 

"Will he recover his mindP" asked Sylvia with increasing 
anxiety. " Will he be what he was at the beginning of the 
winter, what he was yesterday morning even P" 

" Alas, madam, I fear never," answeied Dr. Crow, with tones 
of profoundest regret. Long habit had taught him to sreak of 
his patients as if each new sufferer had been his boyhood s play- 
fellow, the bosom friend of his youth, ihe companion of his man- 
hood, or a beloved and cherished brother. The tone was 
soothing, though conventional. Disconsolate widows sobbed 

rn Dr. Crow's shoulder, and forgot that he had not been 
familiar friend of their departed ones. Hapless mothers 
pressed his kindly hand. And if the doctor was somewhat ex- 
aggerated in his expressions of regret, he had at least a tender 
heart, and compassion for all sufferers. 

" What ! " cried Sylvia, " will he live on for jrears, to be a very 
old man perhaps, and remain always as he is now — without 
memory — saying the same words over and over again, uncon- 
scious of the repetition, at times hardly recognizing the most 
familiar faces P Will he be always like that P" 

" Always is a long word, dear Lady Perriam," answered the 
doctor; " tibere may be some slight improvement. We will hope 
80. The medicines I have prescribed may have a better effect 
on the clouded brain than even I venture to hope. We are in 
the hands of Providence. But I will not conceal from you that 

Sir Arthur " 

" Aubrey," whispered Mr. Stimpson. 

" I cannot deny that Sir Aubrey's mind has received a severe 
Bhock, and I entertain little hope of his permanent recovery. 
The mind may in some measure regain ita \onft, but there wiU 
^ I apprehend, always a cloTidiiiesBy e^eu fk Oo^^^^^s^oai^^ ^1 V&p^ 



Dr. Orow*8 Opinion. 229 

teliect for which, dear Lady Perriam, we must prepare carselves. 
I have promised Mr. Stimpson to come down a^^ain in about a 
month's time, when I may be able to speak with greater cer- 
tainty. In the meantime we are quite agreed as to the treat- 
ment. And whatever regret you may naturally feel at seeing 
your husband's impaired intellect, dear madam, you may yet 
consoleyourself with the thought that you have him still with 
vou. He might have been taken away altogether, and think 
now much worse that would have been." 
. Sylvia was silent. Dr. Grow pressed her hand gently, and 
withdrew, escorted by the respectful Stimpson. 

'* What a lovely young woman !" said the physician as ther 
went, with hushed footsteps, down the broad caipetless oak 
stairs. " And how young 1 Hardly twenty I should think." 

** Not twenty, I iJeHeve," answered Mr. Stimpson. 

" She appears quite devoted to the poor old gentleman." 

" She ought to DC devoted to him," replied Mr, Stimpson, who, 
with the county generally, disapprovea of Sir Aubrey's mar- 
riage. ** She was only a parish schoolmaster's daughter. How- 
ever," he added, remembering his duty to his patron, '* I believe 
she's a very amiable person, and as yon say, devoted to Sir 
Aubrey." 

" Quite a pleasant thing to see," said Dr. Crow. " Thanks, 
my dear sir, you are very good," he added graciously, in 
acknowledgment of the neauy folded bank-note which Mr. 
Stimpson gently insinuated into his hand. 

The vellow chariot had been sent to meet Dr. Crow at the 
Hedingham Station, and now waited to take him back there. 
That stately equipage had scarcely driven away with its dis- 
tinguished occupant when a humbler vehicle, a shabby-looking 
fly, drove round the broad gravel sweep before Perriam Place. 

Mr. Stimpson had lingered at the door to watch the great 
physician's departure. He now waited to see the new comer. 

** The nurse, I suppose," he said to himself. 

The surgeon was right. A slender, pale-faced woman, alighted 
from the fly, and looked wistfullv about, as if in quest of some 
one to whom to address herself. She saw Mr. Stimpson, and 
hesitated, doubtful whether he were a servant or a gentleman, 
and whether, in the latter case, she might venture to speak to him. 

She was decently but suitably dad in an iron-gray linsey 
gown, a black shawl and bonnet ; but, simple as these things 
were, they were worn with a neatness that was almost grace, 
and the stranger looked like a lady. 

" A superior-looking person," thought Mr. Stimpson, noting 
every detail with lus observant eye. 

He went forward as the flymiaTiAiifeeQLQLO^nvVJttfti^jcwa^^^V^wt 
UttJe trunk, md relieved bw from'ixw wSdi«a\» <iXB\»xra»aja>J«s^ I 



230 ,TaJeen ai the Flood. 

" You're the nurse Ladj Perriam has sent for, I conclude P ** 
he said. 

" Yefl, sir Can I see Lady Perriam, if yon please P" 

" You shall aee her presently. But I sBould like to have a few 
words with you first about the treatment, and so on. I am IJie 
family doctor." 

" I am quite at your service, sir.** 

** Oh, you'd better gjet some refreshment first, and rest yo(ar- 
self a little. I can wait half an hour." 

" No, sir, I won't trouble you to wait. I am quite ready tJb 
receive your instructions." 

" So be it. I shan^t be sorry to get home to dinner. Just 
step in here for a minute." 

Mr Stimpson led the way into the dining-room, where the 
butler and his subordinate had just finished laying the table, for 
two only to-uight. Sir Aubrey's accustomed place was a bla^k. 

Here candles were lighted and a bright fire burning, and in 
thi« light the surgeon made a closer survey of the nurse's coun- 
tenance. 

Where had he seen a face which this recalled to him P He 
could not tell. Yet there was something in this care-worn 
visage curiously familiar. 

"I hope you have had plenty of experience," said Mr. 
Stimpson. 

•* I hpve had much experience of sickness, sir." 

*• Have you ever been a hospital nurse ? " 

"No, sir." 

" Have you any certificates ?" 

"No, sir." 

"That'p a pity. You come here, as* it were, without a 
character, and the place you are to fill is an important one." 

" Lady Perriam knows me, sir. I should have thought that 
would have been sufficient. I am here as Lady Perriam's 
servant." 

" It is sufficient as to moral character. But Lady Perriam's 
approval is hardly a certificate of capacity. She is too inexpe- 
rienced herself to know whether you are capable of discharging 
the required duties." 

" If you find me incapable, you can dismiss me, sir," answered 
the woman, with a tone in which meekness was curiously 
mingled with a quiet firmness— a woman who might be ** equcu 
to either fortune " — able to face ruin calmly. 

** Of course," returned Mr. Stimpson ; " but I don't want to 
e^q>ose my patient to the hazard of an incompetent nurse. Have 
^ou ever attended upon a paralytic patient r" 

''Yes, sir. J nursed an old gentleman so affiictcd for nearly 

moattba. " 



Dr, Orow'g Opinion, 231 

Tbia was the tnith. Even adversity's bitter school had failed 
bo loake Mrs. Garford a liar. 

•* Tou . could refer me to the friend&of that patient, I suppose P " 

" If Lady Perriam should require such a reference, sir, I am 
able to give it," answered the woman with dignity. 

" Yery well," said Mr. Stimpson, ** then we can but try you. 
I like your appearance. You seem to have seen better days." ' 

The nurse let this sug£[estion pass unanswe;red. She put in 
BO claim to bygone gentility. 

** What is your name, by the way P " 

"Carter, sir. Mrs. Carter.** 

" Good. I am Mr. Stimpson, of Monkhampton, Sir Aubrey*8 
medical adviser for the last twenty years. Now for your 
instructions.** 

Mr. Stimpson gave his orders pldinly and briefly, and was 
pleased with Mrs. Carter's intelligent maimer of receiving these 
directions. 

. " Upon my word I think you'll do,** he said, kindly ; ** and 
now I m going home, and you'd better go and get something to 
eat.'* 

I'd rathei see Lady Perriam first, if you please, Mr. Stimp- 



son.'* 



" Was there ever such a-woman P iDo yon never eat P Well, 
you shall see your patroness. James, send Lady Peniam*s maid 
to ask if her mistress will see Mrs. Carter.*' 

Sylvia had risen to a height wherein 6he was not approachable 
withoi t a certain amount of ceremony. 

Mr. Stimpson drove away in his old-fashioned gig — ^a relic of 
that departed age in which it was the mark of respectability to 
keep a gig. Mrs. Carter waited in the hall till the serviint 
should return with Lady Perriam's commands. 

A plainly dressed maid-servant came down, at once upper 
housemaid and body servant to Lady Perriam, who had not been 
a lowed the luiury of a handmaiden for her exclusive service. 

" My lady wiU see you," she said, and Mrs. Carter followed 
her up the dark old staircase, along a wide gallery that led to 
Ladj Perriam's dressing-room. ' . 

Here the wood fire and lighted candles made the darkly 
panelled room almost bright. Lad^ Perriam sat before the fire 
m hex glossy gray silk dress; the stmny brown hair making a 
coronet above the pale brow r t}ie hazel eyes dark with thou^t. 
It was a picture that dent a thrill to Mrs. Carter's heart. The 
room seemed splendid to eyes that had for many years looked 
only on poor and sordid surroundings. 

(Salvia received the stranger as it behoved Lady Perriam. ti:^ 
receive a dependant &nd infenor. Sba dis^-n^AiTO^ ^xcsta.\iJBt -^rnv- 
cJuur to oner the traveller weicoiae« W\> Aw^e^L ^ V«t ^HXs. ^ 



232 Taken at the Flood. 

deliberate scmtiny, anxious to see whether her prot^g^ 8 ap» 
pearance were likely to bring discredit on herself. 

" I am glad you have come here without loss of time, Mrs. 
Garter/' she said, with a distant graciousness which did not in- 
vite familiarity ; " and I hope you may be able to make yourself 
comfortable here." 

"There is no fear of that, Lady Perriam," answered Mrs. 
Carter, in tones that faltered a little, though she tried to make 
them calm. " It is quite sufficient happiness for me to be near 

you. 

"Apart from that source of happiness — which can count for 
very bttle, I should think, between people who are so strange to 
each other as you and I are — you will have a comfortable home." 

Mrs. Carter was still standing. No word, no gesture of Lady 
Perriam's had invited her to be seated. 

" The comforts of such a house as this are very new to me," 
madam. " I shall know how to appreciate them, she answered 
quietly. She had schooled herseli to command her tones by this 
time, but tears glittered in the faded eyes — ^tears which she 
quietly brushed aside, and of which Lady Perriam appeared 
unconscious. 

" And you will know how to keep you own secrets, I hope, and 
those of other people. You will be dumb about any facts in my 
father's Hfe which, in your former acquaintance with him, may 
have come to your knowledge." 

" I am not ukely to speak of your father. Lady Perriam."" 

** I shall consider that a saOllJd promise on your part." 

** Let it be a promise — I shall not be tempted to break it." 

" Vety well, I will trust to your honour. Ajid now tell me if 
I did wrong in sending for you— in beHeving that you must 
have some experience of sickness." 

" You guessed rightly. In my struggles for a livelihood I 
have acted as sick nurse. Amongst other patients I had one 
afflicted with paralysis." 

" That is fortunate. Then I shall not feel I am doing wrong 
in trusting you to attend upon my husband. Bear m mind 
that you will have to please our doctor, Mr. Stimpson, as well 



as me." 



UL 

p4^ 



"I shall do my duty to the utmost of my power. Lady 
Perriam." 

" You will occupy a room on this floor, near Sir AubreVg. It 
has been got ready for you, I believe. You will take all your 
meals there, alone, and will have no occasion to associate with 
the servants. Your duties will not oblige you to sit up at night 
iZ2z/^^6r iS'ir A nbrej should become ^vvtrse than he is now; out 
rpn will hold yourseU ready to attend Vdm «i.\. Wi^ lao^ of Uia 
' 'ht should hia valet call you:" 



Dr. Crouft Opinion. 23S 

" I understand, madam. I am not afraid of work, or late 
hours. I can be satisfied with yery little sleep." 

" I am glad to find yon haye one of the qualifications of a 
good nnrse. Now yon had better go to yonr own room — stay, 
I'll order some refreshment for you," added Lady Perriam, with 
her hand upon the bell. 

"One moment, madam I" said Mrs. Carter, stopping her. 
"I want to thank you for your goodness in remembering one so 
fallen — so wretched — in proyiding a home for the des(3ate. I 
had no opportunity to acknowledge the giits you sent me, for I 
feared lest any letter from me might compromise you. But I 
felt your goodness not the less. And that in your exalted 
station, in a change of fortune wonderful enough to turn an 
older head than yours, you should remember my misery, pierces 
me to the heart. Ah ! Lady Perriam, you can neyer know how 
deeply." 

Sylyia's eyes — those eyes so little giyen to weeping — ^were 
dimmed by the time the woman had done speaking. The lashes 
drooped on her cheek, as she lowered her eyelids, as if to hide 
those tears. 

" You owe me no thanks," she said, after a pause ; " I am 
very glad to be of some seryice to you. I regret that the cir- 
cumstances of my life prevent me serving ^ou in any other way 
than that which opportunity offers. In spite of what you caU 
my exalted position, I am by no means my own mistress." 

" I can folly understand that, madam. It is only waifs and 
strays that are altogether free agents," said Mrs. Garter, 
bitterly. For her freedom had meant solitude and semi-starva- 
tion. 

" I am glad to serve you," repeated Sylvia, ** and I venture 
to hope that if I ever should need help of any kind you will b« 
my fnend." 

•* Yes, to the death I " answered the other with intensity. 

" That means an unscrupulous friend, does it not P " asked 
Sylvia, musingly, looking down at the fire. "A friend who 
would not stick at trifles if an unpleasant service were required P " 

*' It means devotion. You would not be likely to ask any- 
thing that involved wrong-doing." 

** You had better not think too well of me. I make no claim 
to be considered faultless." 

" No one is faultless. Lady Perriam, on this earth ; but I hope 
and believe that you are as good and pure as humanity can be." 

Sylvia sighed, and was silent tor a httle while before replying 
to this last speech of Mrs. Garter's. 

*<I am the creature of circumstances" iha «ai^ ^\^a^ 
" Women are too weak to rise above tVevr 4fc%^'3 • "V ^ssl vs^^ 
ifc/uij' of a fatalist, Mrs. Garter.*' 



234 Taken at the Flood. 

" A 4*i^igerous doctrine, Lady Perriam." 

"IsitP I am sorry for that. But come, you have had 
nothing to eat or drink since your journey, have you P " 

"No; I was more anxious to see and thank you than im 
eat* 

Sylvia rang the bell, and the maid appeared. " See that l£r^ 
Garter, Sir Aubrey's nurse, has dinner, or tea» or whatever shd 
likes best in her own room,** said Lady Perriam. "You re- 
member the instructions I gave you this morning." 

" Yes, my lady ; the room is ready, and I have taken in the 
tea-things and a dish of cold meat tor Mrs. Carter.** 

" You will give Mrs. Carter wine, or anything she pleases." 

"Thank you, Lady Perriam, but I take neither wine nor 
beer." 

" You are a teetotaler, perhaps P " 

" I have taken no pledge, but a nurse cannot keep her head 
too clear. I shall take notldng but tea and coffee while I am 
in yonr service." 

" T'hat must be as you please. Good night." 

" Good night, madam." 

" You wiU begin your duties as soon as you have dined.*' 

" Yes, madam ; Mr. Stimpson has told me all I have to do." 

Lady Perriam bent her head courteoasly as the new nurse 
retired. 

Martha led the wa^ to another door in the same gallery, and 
ushered Mrs. Carter mto a comfortably furnished b^room. A 
fire burned cheerily in the wide basket-shaped grate, and a round 
table, with a tea-tray and plates and dishes on spotless damask, 
had been drawn near the hearth. Such comfort, plain and 
unadorned as it was, struck Mrs. Carter deeply. When the 
servant had left her, she sat for a little while looking about her 
with wondering eyes. Such comfort seemed like a dream. 

" Am I really to occupy such a house as this P *' she thought, 
hardly able to believe in her exalted fortune ; " to live with my 
own daughter, and to see her every day ; and yet never dare to 
open my arms and clasp her to my longing heart; to feel the 
words trembling on my Hps, yet never dare to say, ' Child, I am 
your mother!" 



285 



CHAPTER XXXVllL 

THE HEIB OP PEBKIAH. 

Weeks and months passed on^and Sir Anbrej Peniam's con« 
dition underwent little cliange either for better or worse. He 
had been stmck down in th^ prime of life. He was now a help- 
less and^ in all semblance, 911. aged man. His intellect, keen 
enough within its somewhat narrow range a few months ago, 
had now dwindled to the obscare and clonded mind o^ dota^a 
He was not mad : he had no wild delusions, no strange imagin- 
ings. The clouds that darkened his mind never opened to 
show him yisions of the unreal. He held no mysterious con- 
verse with invisible interlocutors; he evoked no company of 
shadpws out of the world of fancy. He was only a fooush old 
man, with a weak memory, and no interest in me, save in tho. 
most trifling details of his monotonous #^tence. 

He, who had been formerly remarkable for the polish of his 
placid manners, was now captious and irritable, semsh and ez- 
acting* Unconscious how much he was demanding, he would 
have kept his young wife a perpetual^ prisoner to the sick-room, 
and deprived her of all con^t with the outer world, save 
during the hours when she walked slowly to and fro beside his 
invalid chair, upon the terrace above that peaceful hollow where 
the family vault awaited his coming. 

Only by some exercise of diplomacy could Lady Perriam taste 
the joys of occasional liberty ; but, as time wore on, she learnt 
how to manage her invalid husband, how to seem to comply 
without compying, how to avoid all hazard of irritating him, 
and yet have her own way. Mrs. Garter was of the utmost 
service to her in this mattery always able to smooth away 
difficulties, to appease the baronet's wrath when he was in* 
clined to be angry — altogether an invaluable servant taLady 
Perriam. 

The nurse kept her solitary place apart from the household ; 
rarely left her own or the invalid's room, save to take the air in 
attendance upon Sir Aubrey i held no converse with the other 
servants; JM^rapulou^ly avoided all familiarity, yet was never 

uncivil. ^ • - ; • . 

The result of this uniform and blameless conduct josly be 
c^ily imagined. Not one of th§ Perriam Place servants liked 
Mrs. Garter. She was pronounced proud, artful, se^T^^N ^ 
person who, under the smoothest putwttcdi t&ftic^d^aaicftt <2«i^<ifi9^^ 
me 4^z>e9t and most dangeroiia demgiia, XXi-'ii^m ^««a.\ri*^^ 



286 Taken at the Mood. 

servants that Lady Perriam took more notice of Mrs. Cartel 
than of any other dependant, and thj^ weighed heavily against 
the nnrse. Sylvia coald hardly be said to be familiar even with 
Mrs. Carter, but she was kinder and more gracious to her than 
to any one else in the household, and the servants talked of 
favouritism. 

" I've served in this house, as girl and woman, for nigh upon 
forty years," said Mrs. Spicer^ the housekeeper, ** and I've never 
yet set up for. being a favourite. I make my courtesy to Sir 
Aubrey to-day if I meets him anywheres, as humble as I made 
my courtesy to him when I first come as a scullery maid, a mere 
slip of a girl. But here is this Mrs. Carter living upert^airs in 
her own room, and having her meals served up to her at her 
own table, and being waited on by them as is good enough to 
sit down with her any day in the week, I should nope." 

" I think she's seen better days though, Mrs. Spicer," said 
Mary Dawson, the upper housemaid ; " she has it m her looks 
and in her ways, somehow. Her hands are as white as curd- 
soap, and as small as any lady's, and she has such a soft way 
of speaking ; and I've seen her handwriting too — quite like a 
young lady at boarding-school." 

** I suppose she's come over you virith her quiet ways,** 
answered the housekeeper. 

** ISo, she's no favourite of mine, she's so silent ; and she 
must be proud, or she'd scarcely keep every one at a distance as 
she doe? • but she's always pohte." 

"Too polite!" muttered Mrs. Spicer. "She's like Lady 
Perriam herself. There's no getting at the bottom of her." 

" Do you know," said Mary Dawson, " I've sometimes thought 
that she's rather like Lady rerriam in the face, allowing for age 
and all that?" 

"Allowing for a precious lot, I should think!" exclaimed 
Mrs. Spicer. "There's not much likeness between that poor 
faded thing and Lady Perriam." 

Mary Dawson's suggestion was negatived by general consent. 
No one could see any likeness between the nurse and her 
mistress. 

Sir Aubrey had been in his helpless, melancholy condition 
about four months, and it was warm summer once more, and 
the com yellowing in the fertile fields between Hedingham and 
Perriam Place, when an event occurred which added consider- 
abl V to Sylvia's importance, and made the future at once bright 
and smooth for her ambition. 

The baronet's proudest hope was realized when he had lost 
bU power to^ taste the sweetness of that once longed-for joy. 
Hia yonng wife hare him a son. 
Merrily rang the chimes of He^gfb&m vndi lL<cs&!^E)Qa!DK\^\xsc^ 



The Heir of Perriam. 237 

the ofie monotonous bell of Perriam Chnrch clanginff in amidst 
those sweeter peals, on the evening of the baby s birth — a 
glorions July evening, all the rich landscape and the distant 
ocean steeped in soft yellow light. 

Edmund Standen heard tnose joy-bells as he smoked his 
after-dinner cigar, strolling about tne garden with Esther and 
his mother — ^heard and wondered at the unaccustomed sound. 

" What can they be all ringing for? " said Esther. " It isn't 
the ringers' practising night. There go the Monkhampton 
bells as well as ours, ^.re the English fi^htin^ anywhere, and 
winning battles, Edmund P You know how little I read the 
newspapers." 

" 1^0, Essie, England is honourably neutral just at present. 
Those joy-peals do not proclaim the triumph of our arms. 
Some victim at the hymeneal altar, I suppose." 

" They'd have wrung this morning if it had been for a wed- 
ding," replied Esther, who couldn't quite get over her wonder at 
those unusual joy-bells. 

The old gardener, syringing an adjacent rose-tree, touched his 
hat, and ventured to address the young lady of the house. 

" Begging your pardon. Miss, I met Jim Baker, the under- 
gardener at the Place, as I was coming back from tea, and he 
told me as Lady Perriam has got a son — bom this afternoon. 
Mebbe it war for that the bells was ringing." 

** No doubt, Giles," answered Esther, with a nervous look at 
Edmund. His cheek, browned healthily by many a ride to and 
fro between Dean House and the bank, and by many a run with 
the hounds last winter, paled at the mention of that too well- 
remembered name. 

Her son ! And one of his brightest, sweetest day-dreams in 
his brief summer-time of love and hope had been a vision of the 
day when Sylvia's first child should be laid in his unaccustomed 
arms — Sylvia's child and his. 

" Poor Sir Aubrey," said Mrs. Standen, almost as if she read 
her son's thoughts on his clouded brow. " He will have little 
pleasure in the birth of his son." 

The joy-bells rang on, and every note was bitterness to 
Edmund's heart. He left the three ladies io stroll up and 
down among the flower-beds, and went for one of those long, 
Bolitary rambles with which it was his wont to solace himself 
^hen the pangs of memory were too sharp to be endured with 
a smiling countenance, and that chee^, easy manner which 
made him so dear to the household. He had borne his grief 
wonderfully, the women who loved him told one another with 
thankful spirits. He shared all their small pleaL«v««^,^'a^ *v5cl^ 
best of sons, the most indulgent of "Qiideft,^^^^ xcio^ J^e^^K.^ ^^ 
brotbera. Re ovlj who wore tke eiioe "k^Mrw \ia^ S^ ^^j^<i^ "«sia^ 



238 Taken at the Mood, 

pinched. Edmund Standen wore Ms shoe with so good a grace 
that his womankind fondly believed in his cure. The stmggla 
had been sharp and short they thought, and with one wrench 
he had plucked Sylvia Carew out of his heart. "Were Sir' 
Aubrey's death to set her free to-morrow, she would hardly 
win Edmund back again. He knew her too well to be again 
her victim. 

Grief, like jealousy, is apt to make the meat it feeds on. 
Feeling the birth of Sir Aubrey's heir . a source of supremest 
bitterness, Edmund Standen must needs bend his steps towards 
Perriam Place, as if anxious to drain that bitter draught to the 
dregs. He went across the well-known fields in the sumn^er 
gloaming — ^bean-fields, where the perfumed blossoms seemed 
fittest abodes for elves and fairies — clover fields that looked 
darkly purple in the fading light— by wide stretches of feathery 
oats — by a bit of woodland where the thick fern filled ihe 
hollows, trembling like green water with every breeze— and so, 
as if summoned by that one monotonous bell, to the churchyard 
in the hollow, with its ivy-mantled stone wall — wall of mellowest 
grays and browns, with hart's-tongue ferns pushing their slendei 
fronds out of every crevice. 

The bell lapsed into silence as Edmund entered the little lane 
leading to the churchyard gate, a narrow lane with the wall on 
one side and a tall hedge on the other, a deep gulley between a 
green meadow and the rustic burial ground. People who live 
m the oountry are fond of churchyards, and God's acre seems a 
natural lounging place, a trysting spot for lovers, a playground 
for children, a tranquil scene where age may meditate upon life's 
brevity and the wide hopes beyond it. 

Edmund went into the churchyard, climbed the low wall, and 
seated himself on the top of it. From this position he could 
survey the Italian garden and the south front of Perriam Place, 
whose lighted windows showed dimly in the summer dusk. He 
lighted his cigar. Let the smoker's disappointment be ever so 
bitter, he mechanically seeks consolation from tobacco. He sat 
smoking, and looking dreamily at those faintly shining windows. 

" Is she happy, I wonder?' he mused ; " she has a new sourco 

of happiness — the mother's joy, which should be very deep. A 

new life begins for her from to-day; a new life in which self must 

needs be but secondary in all her thoughts. She will taste her 

child's innocent joys, sufier his baby sorrows, forget her own 

desires in his. And thus she will be further away from me than 

ever. Until to-day there may have been some taint regret for 

jne still lingering m her heart; after t^ay I shall be the most 

insigniGcant atom in creation in comparison with that new-born 

chi/d, Happy privilege, to succeed tc a new \Tk\!i«d\«ns» q'^ Vlq^^ 

Mw capacities for joy i " 



The Heir of Perriam 239 

He tlioaght, sjid with deepest compassion, of tli§ afflicted lins- 
band and father, tibe clouded brain which this new light of 
home conld harcQy brighten. The particulars of Sir Aubrey's 
sad condition were tolerably well known in the neighbdnrhood- 
Mr. Stiinpson, the surgeon, affected to be reserved upon this 
point, but by nods and frowns and shrugs, and confidential 
admissions to particular friends, had made the state of the case 
known far and wide. The servants also had tongues, and knew 
how to use them. 

While Edmund Standen sat looking at the windows, and 
smoking, a man, who also had a cigar in his mouth, came with 
a brisk step along the terrace, and leaned with folded arms upon 
the stone balustrade, a few paces from the spot where Edmund 
was seated. In this new comer Mr. Standen recognized Mr. 
Bain, the solicitor, with whom he had frequent ctealmgs in his 
professional capacity. Mr. Bain would as certainly resognize 
him. It was best, therefore, to accost the agent, Edmund 
thought ; lest there should appear anything sunTeptitious in his 
occupation of that particular spot. 

** A nice evening for a country i a.mble, Mr. Bain," he jsaid* 
cheerfully. 

''Bless me, is it you, Mr. Standen P" exclaimed the agent. 
" I shouldn't have expected to see you so far from Dean House 
after dinner." 

" That's because you don't know my habits. There's nothing 
I like better than an evening ramble, with no company except 
my ctgar." 

' Isn't that a rather misanthropical turn of mind for so 
J oung a man as you are, Mr. Standen ?" 

" I don't know about misanthropy — but I know it's pleasant 
to be able to think one's own thoughts now and then — instead 
of making conversation." 

" And you've chosen such a nice spot for your evening's medi- 
tations," replied Mr. Bain. " Now I suppose that old church- 
yard, lying under the shadow of this terrace, with its balustrade 
and antique vases and statues, and so forth, is a scene which 
poets and that sort of people would call romantic ? " 

" I think one need hardly be a poet or a painter to ^dmlrs this 
old churchyard." 

** Breally now P " asked Mr. Bain, with an incredulous air. 
" You see it's out of my way as a man (f business. If I were 
owner of yonder house I should object t»» ^ burial -ground so nenr 
my water supply. I should fancy everything I' ate atfd drank 
was flavoured with the ashes of my ancestorsl ' Have you heai^d. 
the bells ring^gP" 

"It would be rather difficult to avoid^iewm^'Cticavr ^ws^^^^^^ 
Edmund, with well-assumed caxelessneaa. 



240 Taken at the Flood. 

** This is a great day for Perriam," said Mr. Bain, between twt 
pn£Ps of his ci^ar. 

" You consider tlie blrtli of an heir a great advantage P** 

" Yes, in this case, certainly. Sir Aubrey is only tenant foi 
fife, and the estate would go to a far distant cousin if he were tt 
die childless. I know how anxiously he desired an heirf " 

"Is he pleased at the accomplishment of his desire P" 

" As pleased as he can be at anything, poor man." 

"His capacity for joy of any kind is limited, I imagine, from 
your tone,." 

Mr. Bain sighed and shook his head with a melancholy air. 

" That's a subject I don't much care about discussing," he 
replied, after a brief silence. " Fortunately," he added, with a 
keen glance at the young man's face, just visible to him in the 
twilight, "whatever decay there may be in Sir Aubrey's mental 
state, his bodily health is remarkably good. Indeed, I shouldn't 
wonder if he were to live as long as you or I." 

" Starting with a considerable disadvantage," sadd Edmund. 

" Yes, but we live fast — wear our brains and fatigue our bodies 
to the utmost. He lives like a baby — neither thinks nor labours 
— sleeps as placidly as an infant in its cradle, and, as he has 
very httle memory, lives almost without care. I see no reason 
why he should not live to be ninety." 

ISTot once did Edmund Standen inquire about Lady Perriam. 
He knew not how near she might have been to the gates of 
death — knew not if her peril were ended. Was she not dead to 
him already P Could death remove her farther from him — or 
divide them more completely than her falsehood had divided 
themP 

Yet he would have given much in that hour to know how she 
fared. It was only his fear of compromising her that prevented 
his questioning Mr. Bain as to her welfare. 

He spoke a little of indifferent matters, finished his cigar, and 
wished the agent good night. Shadrach Bain leaning with 
folded arms upon the broad stone balustrade, watched the 
departing figure till it vanished in the narrow lane. 

"This rather confirms my notion," he said to himself; "I 
thought there'd been something more than a passing flirtation 
between those two. Mr. Stancten was deeply hit at any rate, 
though he contrives to carry it off pretty well. But she doesn't 
take matters quite so eadly. The lightest mention of his name 
brings the blood into her cneek, and leaves it ashy pale a minute 
after. You'd better make haste and cure yourself of that fancy. 
Lady Perriam ; wbr if ever you become a widow I don't think 
/oa'JJ Bnd. it to yot^r advantage to marry Edmund Standea.** 



Ml 



QRAPTHnEt KXXHL 

MB. (Ui» fHAA^ (HMSELF USEFUL. 

Sylvia's babe grew ana lionrisbed, and for the rest of tbat 
glorious summer ..time it seemed to her as if life had a new zest. 
The infant was sach a novel playthingt and its existence gave 
her so much additional importance. The servants were more 
reverential than before. The mother of Ferriam's fatnre lord 
was a much grander person than Sir Aubrey's young wife. Sir 
Aubrey, being in a measure civilly dead, the househmd worship- 
ped at the shrine of the heir, as if that unconscious infant were 
already master and ruler. 

A motherly countrywoman, the childless widow of a small 
tenant-farmer who had failed and gone to the dogs untimely, 
had been engaged as nurse. Mr. Bain, who knew everybody, 
had found this person, and brought her to Lady Perriam, with 
a recommendation so strong as to be almost a command. Sylvia 
would have rejected the woman, solely to resist an interference 
which she resented as a species of tyranny, but Sir Aubrey, 
who was present at the discussion, and wlio always sided with 
Shadrach Bain, insisted that Mrs. Tringfold should be engaged. 
Mrs. Tringfold was accordingly introduced into the household 
a few weeks before the birth of the heir. 

Sir Aubrey forgot all about the business within an hour of 
the argument, but his influence had enabled Mr. Bain to have 
his own way, which Sylvia considered no small hardship. 

" Why do you always take Mr. Bain*8 part against me P" she 
asked, when the steward had left them. 

" Very sensible man is Bain, my love," answered Sir Aubrey, 
in his senile way ; " can't do better than take Bain's advice. If 
Bain recommen«ls the nurse, the nurse must be good." 

" I'd rather have chosen for myself," said Sylvia, pouting. 

" What can you know about servants, my dear P You're too 
young to decide properly. Very good servant is Bain — faithful 
servant." 

" Faithful to his own interests, I daresay,** mnltered Sylvia. 

Sylvia did not know that it was tii rough Mr. Bain's influence 
^er future income had been made five thousand instead of twc 
thousand a year ; but perhaps even had she been aware of thi* 
important fact it would hardly have reconciled her to that evei 
watchful influence which she considered a kmd. o^ \>^x^tlw^ « 

There was no one in that house, t"h© IIio^i^\ftx Tio\» ^^^ik^*^*^ 
to whom that infant stranger seemed to ^"^e «*\<^ "Vv^-as^x^.^ 



24t Taken at the Flood. 

pleastire as to the sick nurse, Mrs. Carter. She deemed it hei 
tfweetest privilege to nurse him for an odd half honr, when 
Master Perriam*s own special attendant, Mrs. Tringfold, was in 
an amiahle humour, and disposed to permit such a h'berty with 
her nursling. She hung over his cradle with a fondness which, 
if assumed, was the perfection of acting. The servants declared 
this show of affection was assumed, and condemned Mrs. Carter 
as a time-server and sycophant. 

** She's always been able to get the blind side of mv lady," 
said Mrs. Spicer, the housekeeper, '* and she thinks sne'U get 
more of a favourite than ever if she makes believe to worship 
that blessed child.** 

Although this was the uncharitable opinion of the servants* 
hall, nothing could be more quiet and unobtrusive than Mrs; 
Carter's love for the infant. It was when she was left alone 
beside the cradle, or with the baby in her arms, that her sdul 
overflowed, and she shed tears, the sacred tears of the repentan j 
sinner, over that unconscious little one, or breathed a heartfelt 

Erayer that his path might be far from the sin and misery that 
ad beset her footsteps. 

The time came, but too soon, when the charm of novelty wore 
off this last blessing, as it had worn off the splendour of her 
stately home, and Sylvia began to lose her first delight in the 
baby. He was a troublesome plaything at best, and if hin 
m6ther allowed herself to take the sole charge of him for half 
an hour she was apt to find that half-hour the longest in the 
day. She was glad to hand him over to Mrs. Tringfold or Mrs. 
Carter, and to admire his infantine graces at a distance. 

Sir Aubrey liked to have the babe paraded up and down his 
room now and then; seemed proud of him; and caressed h'm 
with a senile fondness occasionally; but at other times forett 
his existence, and sometimes even moaned and bewailed his w^t'it 
of an heir. At first Mrs. Carter would bring him the child, a id 
^how him the folly of thesis complainings, when Providence *» ad 
already blessed him with so fair a son. But after a little vvhile 
she discovered bow vain this was, and allowed him to utt( ' ais 
useless lamentations as often as he pleased, without endeavour- 
ing to demonstrate their foolishness. As time wore on, and the 
babe became advanced in months, Lady Perriam fonid him 
more and more troublesome. With every tooth he cut there 
was the same fuss and anxiety. He had innumerable Rmall 
ailments, and peevish fits, and squalling fits, which Mrs. Tring- 
fold put down to his teeth, until it seemed to Sylvia that he 
oould scarcely have been worse if he had been afflicted with 
teeth sprouting out all over him like the almonds on a tipsy 
eaire, 

'/ shall be fonder of him when h© ia ib'\i\AX'fe o\v5«t» I doire. 



4i 



Mr. Bain makes himself Useful. 243 

ta^," tlie mother thought, self-excaeingly, when she found the 
heir of Perriam more than nsnally troublesome. 

So, little by little, as the months wore on, the child ceased to 
be the new delight and amnsement of her life, and the burden 
of her monotonous existence weighed upon her as heavily as of 
old. 

She was in some measure more free to do as she liked since 
Sir Aubrey's illness. He, who had been so completely her 
master, was now little more than a cipher in the house. Dead 
in life, he occupied a place upon this earth, yet was no more 
than a blank in the sum of its inhabitants. 

Weary as Sylviik felt her attendance upon Sir Aubrey, she 
contrived to be tolerably kind to him — schooled herself to a 
passive amiability which was the very reverse of her vivid 
nature. She read to him, and sang to him, and answered the 
same questions again and again with a patience which seemed 
almost sublime. But she rovtaricted the performance of these 
duties to about two hours a day — an hour in the morning and 
an hoar in the evenfaig. More she declared would have killed 
her. 

For the rest of his time Sir Aubrey was dependent upon 
Mordred Perriam, Mrs. Carter, and Jean ChiLpelain for society, 
cheered only by the doctor's daily visit, or by Mr. Bain, who 
came about twice a week, and went over the business of the 
estate with his employer as seriously at if the baronet had been 
in the fullest possession of his faculties. 

Lady Perriam had now almost unlimited command of money. 
Sir Aubrey still kept his cheque book and signed all cheques 
for the maintenance of hii household. He was quite conscious 
of each amount which he so dispensed at the moment, and 
invariably bewailed the largeness of the sum demanded from 
him 1 but his brain had lost the power to remember or multiply 
the ngures of previous cheques, and he might have been induced 
to sign three or four for tne same purpose and amount in one 
day,nad his land steward asked him to do so. All cheques 
were written at the instigation of Shadrach Bain. He could 
alone obtain money from Sir Aubrey: and thus all sum>i 
required by Lady Perriam passed in a manner through the 
agent's hands. 

Sylvia felt humiliated by Mr. Bain's mediation, but was fain 
to submit, for if she ventured to ask Sir Aubrey for money he 
always replied in the same manner. What could she want with 
so many cheques? She had plenty of gowns to wear; he was 
always seeing her in some new finery. She had a house to live 
in, and a carriage to ride in. What more could she require f 

Sylvia would suggest that there were bBVa \^ \>^ ^vi^ %\w^ 
that some one must pay then\. 



2M Iblken at tie Flood. 

~ ** Let Bain bi'lng me the bills and I will write tHe oHeaues,* 
was Sir Aabrey's invariable answer. "Bain knows what I 
ought to pay. He is a sharp man of business, and won't see 
me imposed upon. You'd ruin me, Sylvia, if I allowed you to 
manage matters." 

Ladv Perriam submitted therefore, and received all cheqnee 
from tne hands of Shadrach Bain. He gave her ample funds 
to gratify her own caprices as well as to pay household bills. 
Sir Aubrey signed a cheque for sundries about once a fortnight, 
and sundnes meant pocket money for Sylvia. She was now able 
to gratify her taste for fashionable dresses, rich laces, delicate- 
hued ribbons, at Mr. Ganzlein's. She bought new books and 
new music without stint, and crowded her aressing table with 
the latest inventions in perfameiy. She was able to send her 
father a bank-note now and then, and to add an occasional 
bonus to Mrs. Carter's liberal wages. If the possession of 
money could have made Sylvia Perriam happy, she might now 
have tasted the fullness of joy. But, however pleasant it was 
to buy fine dresses, it seemed a hardship not to be able to wear 
them before admiring eyes. She might be pleased with the 
reflection of her beauty when she stood before her cheval glass 
dressed in the style which Mr. Ganzlein assured her was the 
last Parisian fashion, as worn by the Empress Eugenie. But 
she turned away from the glass with a dismal sigh, remembering 
that hardly any one but her sick husband and Mr. Bain would 
be likely to behold her splendour. Thus after a brief period of 
extravagance, she grew tired of buying fine dresses. 

She might have gone to Hedingham Church every Sunday, 
and shown ofi* her finery among people who had known her in 
poverty, but this she did not care to do. That one scornful 
look from Edmund Standen had been almost more than she 
could bear. She could not hazard its recurrence. Better never 
to see his face again than to see it with that expression. Yet 
when she dreamed of the dim unknown future— and all her 
di'eams were of the future — she did not despair of winning her 
forsaken lover once again, were she but free to attempt the 
winning. 

There was one person in Perriam Place in whom Sir Aubrey's 

altered state had worked a change almost as melancholy as the 

change in Sir Aubrey himself. This was Mordred Perriam, 

rho had taken his brother's affliction deeply to heart; so deeply 

that it seemed as if the very mainspring of his life were broken 

and the vigour of fbe man so wasted and decayed that in the 

dismal journey to the grave the younger brother was likely to 

go before the elder. Mordred made no formal complaint of 

ulneBs, though to any ear that would bearken he did occasionally 

bewail those aharp, shooting pangs -wYa^ib. «fiBac^«^\3A%\\!^fcx\iS^ 



Mr, Bain makes himself TTsefuh 245 

^ing; now strikiiig the heart, now assailing the head. He 
ehuffled about very much as usual, and shambled up and down 
his accustomed walks in the kitchen garden ; but all his joy in 
life seemed gone. He had never stirred out of his own room 
since his brother's attack save to go to Aubrey's room, or for 
his constitutional walk in the kitchen-garden. He couldn't 
bear the sight of the dining-room without Aubrey, he said ; so, 
at his request, all meals were taken to him in his own littered 
chamber, and he sat among his dingj brown-backed folios, and 
quartos, and octavos, and mumbled ms solitary meal, indifferent, 
or hardly conscious what he ate. 

He bought no more books; corresponded no more with 
second-hand booksellers; studied no more catalogues of book 
sales ; and this in him meant the relinquishment in his share 
in life. Not Charles Y., when he shut himself up in the Monas- 
tery of St. Just, could have made a more complete finish of 
his career than Mr. Ferriam did when he closed his catalogue, 
and said, " I will buy no more." " What's the use of my getting 
an^ more bargains P " he said, when Ladj Ferriam remarked on 
this change in her brother-in-law's habit's, " there's no one tc 
sympathize with me. Yon don't care for old books. You like 
new novels, poor ephemeral things, which become waste paper 
0ix months after their pubHcation. How can you appreciate an 
Aldine Cicero, in twenty folio volumes; or a Decameron, almost 
as rare as that famous edition which sold the other day for 
something like two thousand pounds P Aubrey could sympathize 
with me. Aubrey understood when I talked to him.' 

Sylvia had in some measure merited the reproach impHed in 
this speech, for, without being absolutely uncivil to her brothar- 
in-law, she had let him see her almost contemptuous indifference 
to his pursuits. She had yawned when he showed her son* 
treasured volume; and she had gone so far as to show that she 
considered book-binding an ignoble pursuit for a cadet of the 
house of Ferriam. From the first day of his brother's affliction 
Mordred Ferriam seemed to shrink away from Salvia. He re- 
coiled from that lovely butterfly-like creature, as if the very fact 
of her beauty were an offence against her husband. Sir Aubrey's 
room was Mordred's favourite habitation. To sit by the fireplace 
in winter and summer with his chair close to the hearth, eveiL 
when the capacious grate was empty of fuel, formed Mordred's 
ihief pleasure. He brought a pile of books with him evexy day, 
)nd would read aloud to Sir Aubrey when the invalid cared foi 
that recreation, nothing discouraged, though his brother made 
she same imbe(^e remarks day after day, and gave ntteranoe tA 
k«ble criticisms that went often wide oi tVv^ \jKs?k., ^'^ ^w^^ 
nake approving' remarks on the piety of N'o\\sJ\xe,TD^a\a^^^^^^'^^^ 
"Baylor for Qibhon, confound Paradise Iiost Nnt\iT>«»J<i5? ^ AsiX'sraa* 



246 Hkien at the Mood. 

t\pLd in various ways betray tlie weakness of his decaying brain 
but Mordred was nappy if he would but apgdar to listen, and tali 
a little now and then, and seem content with his company. Thai 
day after day the two men sat together, both old before their tima 
both with the looks and the manners of men who had, as it were^ 
outlived life itself, and now dwelt apart in a kind of hadeSf b^ 
tween the life past and the life to come. 

Almost the^ only interest these two evinced in the actual 
world was their interest in the heir of Perriam. Of him, eiaM^h 
seemed equally proud. The infant's presence always brought a 
smile to Sir Aubrey's wan face, a smile which seemed i^e^ted 
in the countenance of his brother. 

" Providence has been very good to you, Aubrey," Morcb^ 
said very often in exactly the same complacent tone. " It's fk 
great blessing to see that fine little fellow, and to know that the 
Perriam estate need not go out of the direct line." 



CHAPTER XL. 

THE GBAS8 WITHEBETH, THE IXOWEB FAD£TH. 

Ab summer changed to autumn, and autumn darkened into 
winter again, a gloomy shadow fell upon Mr. 'Bain's orderly hoiha 
in High Street, MonUiampton, the forewaminj? shadow of death. 
Mrs. Bain, the gentle, thoughtful, managing house-motiier, had 
surrendered the keys of store cupboards and china ulosets^' wine 
cellar and cellaret ; and there were thosie in the household who 
felt that she had relinquished them for the last lime, ' Nev^r 
more would she reign with unobstrusive swuy in thid'uicvow 
kin^om of home. 

She had returned from Cannes at the end of ApHl, ivondei^ 

fully benefited by the milder climate bf southern France. • Hef 

friends were loud in their cdngratulations. She had found a 

means of cure, or at least of permanent alleviation of her com- 

plamts. Asthma or bronchitis need trouble' her no more. She 

had only to pack her trunks Eind depart like the swallow^, save 

for that incumbrance of luggage, at the approach of winter. 

The doctor, Mr. Stimpson, agre^ to thi^, with Some faint teser- 

ration. It is not for a family doctor to damp his patient's 

Bpiiita, There is your family doctot, ftytsvipaM^afcU^ «»\A '^^ei^Y'i^^ 

who gastea at you with deploring eyes, auSi ^n^'^x^^J^^Joas^lwi 



The Ghass Withereth, the Flower J^adeth. 247 

on. tlie verge of the grave ; and there is also the cheerful and 
jocose family doctor, who talks load even in sick rooms, and 
affects to believe there is hardly anything the matter with yon. 
Mr Stimpson was a cheerful doctor and a great favourite at 
Monkhampton. Unhappily, this particular winter came upon 
the world with hardly a note of warning, tripping up the heelp 
of autumn as it were; and while people were congratulating 
one another on the fine bracing autumnal weather, the h*ost-fiend 
suddenly tweaked them by the nose, and fogs which, had they 
known their place, wonld have held themselves in reserve for the 
dark days before Christmas, enveloped the close of October with 
a chilly gloom. 

Mrs. Bain was taken ill with her chronic asthma before Oc- 
tober was ended, and Mr. Stimpson declared decisively that the 
intended emigration to Cannes was out of the question for some 
time to come. 

" She couldn't bear the journey in her present state," he said 
to Shadrach Bain, who seemed full of anxiety, though He said 
little about his fears ; " and by the time we get her round 
9,gain, it may be too late in the year for her to travel." 

So, instead of departing to the pleasant shores of the Medi* 
terranean, Mrs. Bain was confined to her own chamber, a large 
and comfortable apartment, overlooking the High-street, from 
whose windows, when she was well enough to sit up, the invalid 
could see all that constituted life in Monkhampton. 

" It's better than going abroad to be away from you all," 
Mrs. Bain said to her daughters, " and we are in the Lord's 
hands all the same here as in a better climate. If it is His 
pleasure I shall get through the winter, Monkhampton won't 
kill n.e ; and if it's His pleasure to take me, I shall be content to 
go. I feel myself a burden to your father, my dears. A sick 
wife is nothing but a burden." 

** You oughtn't to say such things, mother," remonstrated 
Matilda Jane, tearfully ; ** I'm sure father does nothing but 
fret about yon since you've been so ilL If you could see him 
as he sits at table, so full of thought and trouble, you'd know 
how he takes your illness to heart." 

" I do know that my dear," repHed Mrs. Bain, to whom her 
hnsband was chief among men, always just, always to be 
honoured, " and that's why I feel it will be a blessing for you 
all when it pleases God to remove me. Your father will know 
that he has done his duty to me, and been the best of hus 
bands, and he'U soon leave off fretting. People easily make up 
their minds to a loss when the thing has happened. It's b^fet<^- 
band they feel the most pain, while i\\exe'» «kV^\iW^ \J\\> cil V^v^ 
mixed with their fears. No trouble iWt OoQi e^^x csvSX^ ^\>^^>;^^ 
io Buffer 18 halt' bo bad to bear aa we tkmV V\. \a\iftloi^>w^<v.. 



248 Taken at the Flood. 

And then, with many pious maxims, and qnotationi from 
Holy Writ, words which came from the heart as weU as from 
the lips, Mrs. Bain strove to console her daughters in advance 
for the loss which she felt very sure must ere long befall them. 
She was a woman of deep rehgious feeling, so thoroughly sin- 
cere and earnest that the formal phrases of Methodism had no 
sound of cant when she uttered them. It had been her ^eatest 
pride 9hd her sweetest joy to bring up her children in 9ie love 
and fear of the Lord. That sublime phrase was written on 
her heart, " In the love and fear of the Lord." And from no 
thought or action of her life was the influence of religion ever 
absent. Her simple, thrifty, unsemsh Hfe had been ruled on 
what she herself called gospel principles. She had been a 
bounteous friend to the poor of Monkhampton; a Dorcas in 
simplicity of living and attire — never choosing the best for her- 
self — taking no more heed for her raiment than the lilies, and 
content wiui a homelier garb than that wherewith God decks 
the flowers of the field. 

The only pang she had ever felt on her husband's account 
was the fear that he was somewhat given to worldliness. That, 
in spite of his respilar attendance at the chajxel in Water-lane, 
twice every Sabbath, and on two evenings in the week, the 
things of this world had too firm a hold upon his spirit — ^that 
his bank-book occupied almost as important a place in his 
thoughts as his Bible — ^willing though ne seemed to read the 
mommg and evening chapter. 

" I could bear poverty better than the thought that your 
father cared too much for the things of this world," Mrs. !Bain 
said to one of her daughters plaintively. 

The girl defended her father warmly. 

" I think that is going a little too far, mother," she answered. 
** It's people's duty to get on in life, especially when they have 
families to provide for. I sometimes wish father was a little 
more worldly-minded, and would let us ride on horseback, as the 
Miss Horshaws do, and even follow the hounds." 

Mrs. Bain sighed, and murmured something about the in- 
congruity of horsemanship and Biblical Christianity. She 
always came back to the Bible for strength in every argument; 
and m the Bible chariots and horses were generally associated 
with wickedness, and Egyptians and Philistines. Slie had done 
her utmost to teach her children how transitory were the joys 
of this life — and here was her Matilda Jane, her first-lDom, 
hankering for horsemanship, and even eager to hunt some inno« 
cent animal to death. 

No man could have been a better or kinder husband than Mr. 

Bain in this mournful winter, when the shadow of approaching 

' death forbade all Ghristmai joys, and made the season doubly 



The Grass Withereih, the Flower Fadeth 249 

■tid, becanse it liad been wont to be enlivened by some mild do- 
mestic festiyity, extra good dinners, a family gathering of all 
the Dawkers and Bains, and those other families with which 
Dawkers and Sains had intermingled in the solemn bonds of 
matrimony. 

Every one in Monkhampton landed Shadrach Bain's devotion 
to his sick wife. It was the habit of those simple townsfolk to 
snrvey and remark npon the actions of their neighbours as if all 
the honses had been verily of glass; and all Monkhampton 
agreed that in his character of husband Shadrach was a model 
for his fellow-townsmen. The Baptists said it was because Mi . 
Bain was a Baptist. The Chnrch-of-Englanders declared that 
Bain was a good fellow in spite oT his Methodistical nonsense. 

It was known that he had been ready to take his wife to 
Cannes when her fatal illness came upon her ; it was known 
that he spent his leisure evenings in her sick-room; it was 
known that he had summoned Dr. Pollinktory from Bougemont, 
the county town, to hold a consultation with Mr. Stimpson, not 
once, but three times, since Mrs. Bain hud kept her room. 
What could domestic affection do more than this ? 

The twenty years which had gone by since his father's death 
had done much to strengthen Mr. Bain's standing in Monk- 
hampton. A man cannot go on living in a substantial square- 
built house, paying his way, subscribing liberally to local 
charities, and bringing up sons and daughters, without winning 
the respect of his fellow-townsmen. 

It was known that every year which came to an end beheld 
an increase in Mr. Bain's worldly goods. The addition to his 
possessions might be much or httle ; but it was a well-known 
fact that Shadrach Bain saved money. He bought little odd 
bits of land here and there in obscure comers of the town — here 
half an acre and there a quarter, and here a dilapidated old 
house, only fit to be pulled down — until he had in a manner 
coiled himself in and out of the town like a serpent, so that 
no new street could have been planned in Monkhampton that 
would not cut through Shadrach Bain's property. Go to the 
right, or turn to the left, you must come upon some spot of 
earth that was the freehold of Shadrach Bain. 

He had bought two or three speculative properties within the 
last year, perhaps hardly amounting altogether to three thou- 
sand pounds; yet it was an understood thing that he was getting 
rich, and that where in former years he had crept, he now began 
to stride. 

A very dismal house was the habitation of the Bain family 
that winter. They all loved the mother, and to miss her quiet 
presence was to lose the keystone of the domestic arch. 
"^Fathery** too, was beyond measure dull and self-absorbed. Ho M 



250 Taken at the Mood. 

rarely spoke to his daughters ; lie seemed nnooiifloiotLS of thi 
existence of his sons, save in their capacity as his clerks, io 
which, to nse their own unlicensed language, he was " down 
apon them to an awful extent." He worked in his office in all 
kmds of unlawful hours, and onl^ entered the family dinin^« 
room to eat his unsocial and humed meal, and to leave direct^ 
he had eaten. 

The Perriam estate occupied him more closely than ever this 
winter, and two days in every week were spent at Perriam Place, 
or on the Perriam lands, nding the baronet's once cherished 
Splinter, which was kept in condition by Mr. Bain's occasional 
use. On these days he always took his luncheon at the Place, 
and sometimes shared that mid-day meal with the reluctant 
Lady Perriam. She felt that he was of use to her — ^that but 
for nim her position would be a great deal worse than it was, 
and she schooled herself to be civil, friendly even in her manner 
to him. Yet, lurking in her heart, there was always the same 
undefined fear of him, the same deep-rooted conviction that he 
knew her better than any one else in the world. 

One day when they were seated at luncheon, far apart at the 
long dining-table, but alone and unattended, Mr. Bam spoke of 
Edmund Standen. 

" A very fine young fellow that," he said, " and a first-rate 
man of business, which one would hardly have expected of a lad 
brought up at his mother's apron string. Edmund Standen would 
have come to the front if he had started in life without a sixpence." 

How deeply that phrase hit Sylvia, remembering as she did 
her own cowardly fears, her own weak shrinking from the mere 
possibility of misfortune ! 

** Standen is to be manager at the bank next year, I'm told, 
and Sanderson goes to Eougemont in the place of Mr. Curlew, 
who retires. He'll get six or seven hundred a year, no doubt, 
as manager. A nice thing, considering his mother's money, 
which must all come to him by-and-by. I suppose he'll marry 
that little girl he is so sweet upon." 

" Do you mean Miss Eochdale ?". asked Sylvia, very pale, not 
knowing what he might tell her next. 

*' Yes, that's the n&me. The pretty Httle dark-eyed girl who 
Uves with his mother." 

** They have been brought up together like brother and sister," 
said Sylvia. " They coiHd hardly thii^k of marrying, I should 
fancy, 

" Should you P It's the common talk.thaf they're engaged. 
I used to meet them strolling in the lanes round Hedingham ii^ 
^a Slimmer evenings ; bnt perhaps it was only in brotherly and 
daterly^ companionsnip," 
SjMa answered not a word, "What ib.crQ\dL f^» ««\^ ^fa* 



The Grass Wtthereth, the Flower Fadeth. 25J 

had no desire to qnestion Shadrach Bain. If this thing wen 
true, the knowledge of it must reach her soon enough, too soon, 
let it come when it would. She shrank from receiving her 
death-blow through Mr. Bain. 

** I could bear anything but that," she thought, meaning Edr 
mund's marriage with any one except herself. " I could endure 
life-long separation from mm, but not to know that he was happy 
with another." 

She could now venture to send for Mary Peter, the Heding- 
ham dressmaker, without fear of reproof from Sir Aubrey, who 
need know nothmg of that youn^ person's coming. She sum- 
moned Mary on the day after this conversation with Mr. Bain, 
and received her in the morning room on the ground floor, that 
chilly apartment which the last Lady Perriam had adorned with 
a collection of shells and sea- weeds in two ebony cabinets, and 
a neat book-case, containing about two dozen of the dullest 
imaginable books. Here, remote* from Sir Aubrey's ken, Sylvia 
could detain Miss Peter as long as she pleased. 

" I want you to make a dress for me, Mary," she said, with 
that lofty yet gracious air which became her as well as if she 
had been bom in the purple. " Sir Aubrey insisted upon my 
employing Mrs. Bowker, oi Monkhampton, and I always defer 
to him even in small matters ; but I like your style best, and I 
mean to employ you occasionally.*' 

"I'm sure you're very kind, my lady,** answered Mary, to 
whom the days when she and Sylvia had been companions 
seemed very far off, so vast was the distance between them now. 

Then came a discussion about the fashion of the dress, and 
then the usual question, asked with a languid air, as if the in- 
quiry were made rather out of civility to Miss Peter than from 
any interest Lady Perriam felt in the subject. 

" Any news at Hedingham, Mary P " 

" Well, not much, my lady. You know there never is no news 
i^ speak of in our dreadful dull place. Mrs. Toynbee and tlie 
young ladies have been to Badden Badden, and brily came back 
m November, with all the Parisian fashions — and very'ideous 
the Parisian fashions must be judging from Mrs. l\)ynbee'8 
bonnet, with not so much as an apology for a curtam, and 
flowers sprouting out where you'd least expect to see them. It 
would be worth your whiled comiag over to church just to look 
at Mrs.Toynbee's bonnet, and one can see that she thinks a deal 
of it, too. But you never come to our church now, my lady." 

"It's so far," said Sylvia, "I don't care about having the 
horses out on Sunday." 

" That's very good of you," aTiBwerft9Ll&.wj ^cy£AwcQ.s&^ . **'^ 
tibink if I had horses I sliould ue^et \)A^q ^^ni^SLVJaa ^^^^^^ . , 
^onld BO enjoy liiing about.*' 



252 Taken at the Mood. 

** Is Mrs. Toynbee's bonnet the only event tbat has happened 
In Hedingham since the summer?" Sylvia asked languidly. 

" Well, there isn't much else. There was a young gent froa 
Oxford that stayed at the vicarage, and was thought to be court- 
ing the voungest Miss Vancourt, but he went away and nothing 
came of all the talk. Hedingham is such a place for talk. 
They do say Mr. Standen is going to marry Miss Rochdale.*' 

** I daresay that's true," said Sylvia, steeling herself against 
the pain that went along with every thought of that bitter possi* 
biKty. ^ ./ B r 

" Well, I don't know, I'm sure," replied Mary meditatively. 
" It does seem rather Ukely though, as you say. Considering 
that he must have been so down-hearted at losing you, he 
couldn't better console himself than by marrying a nice young 
lady like Miss Bochdale ; so kind as she's been to his sister's 
children too, like a second mother to them — teaching the little 
girls, and everythink, just as if she was no better than a nursery 
{fovemess, instead of an independent young lady, with a nice 
income of her own." 

" Oh, no doubt she is a model of all virtues," replied Sylvia, 
stung even by Mary Peter's praises of her rival. ** A young 
woman who knows now to wind herself into people's affections 
with her meek winning ways, and pretended unselfishness, yet 
seeking her own ends all the time. Just the kmd of girl to 
succeed in any object she set her heart upon." 

Mary Peter felt the bitterness in this speech, and prudently 
refrained from any reply. She asked some convenient question 
about the sleeve of the new dress, and then retired. Sylvia 
would gladly have detained her, to question her more closely 
upon what rumour said of Edmund and Esther, but she felt 
that she had said too much already — ^perhaps almost betrayed 
herself to this vulgar dressmaker. 

" I do beheve she still cares for him," Mary Peter said to hdr- 
self as she went home with Sylvia's roll of silk under her ami. 
" She'd hardly have flown out like that about Miss Bochdale if 
she didn't." 



OHAPTEEXLL 

8TLVIA ASKS A QUE8TI0K. 



That feeble lamp of life which burned in the sick chamber in 

Sgh-street, Monkhampton, survived the gloom of deepest 

^rinteii now sinking almost to extinction, now flickering faintly 



Sylvia oaks a Question. 253 

back to life, now brightening so visibly that the aniions cbildren 
began to hope for their mother's recovery. They might have 
her with them a few more years even yet, they thought. Early 
in February Mrs. Bain had improved so much as to come down- 
stairs once more, and occupy her accustomed place by the house- 
hold hearth ; but she was not strong enough for the resumption 
of the domestic keys, or the economical housewife's duties. All 
she could do was to instil principles of thrift into Matilda Jane, 
to impart valuable secrets of good management, wise saws that 
had Deen handed down to her by her mother, look over the 
butcher's book now and then, and sigh plaintively as she noted 
how the weekly totals had risen since her illness. 

*' I told cook what you said, mother," answered Matilda Jane. 
" And she said it was the gravy-beef for your beef tea." 

" My dear, the bills could hardly have been heavier if she'd 
boiled down a bullock. I'm very much afraid the servants have 
been eating meat suppers." 

Delighted with this obvious improvement in his patient, and 
sincerely anxious to preserve the cherished wife for the anxious 
husband, whose devotion was a fact patent to all Monkhampton, 
Mr. Stimpson told Shadrach Bain that now was the time for his 
wife's removal to a milder climate. 

" If you can get her out of the way of our east winds, we 
may have her strong again by the summer/' said Mr. Stimpson 
oheerily. 

There was just a shade of uneasiness in Shadrach Bain's 
expression as he reflected on the doctor's suggestion. 

** I thought our climate was pretty nearly as good a one as 
you could have," he said. " I didn't see much difference between 
Monkhampton and Cannes." 

" Perhaps not, my dear sir. In robust health like yours one 
is hardly conscious of change in temperature. Hadyon con- 
sulted the thermometer yon would have found that Cannes is 
six or seven degrees higher than Monkhampton." 

" Very likely. If vou think Mrs. Bain ought to go, she shall 
go, though it could nardly be more inconvenient than it is just 
now for me to take her. But she has been a good wife to me, 
and I wish to do my duty." 

" Everybody knows that," replied the doctor with feeling. 
He had attended Shadrach Bain's family from the very begin- 
ning, had ushered the children upon the stage of life, and con- 
ducted them safely through all their infantile ailments, and was 
sincerely attached to the household. 

** If she goes to Cannes and improves as you think she will, 
is there any hope of her being spared for some years to come ? " 
asked the anxious husband, with a watchful eye upon the prac- 
titioner's countenance. " I should like to know the truth. 



Ihlsen at the Flood. 

Paioliing a penon up is one i}nns, and curing them is another. 
Have you any hope of a cure in tnis case P " 

The doctor shook his head regretfully. Mrs. Bain had been 
one of his best patients^ — a small annuity to him for the last five 
years. Would that she could have lasted for ever, and been 
handed down in reversion to his sons. 

•*My dear Mr. Bain," he said, overflowing with sympathy, 
''your dear good lady's malady has long been chronic. There 
can be no such thing as cure, but by escaping our cold spring 
we may carry her safely into the summer." 

"To lose her when winter comes again. A poor hope at 
best." 

" We are in the hands of Providence. We can but do our 
uttermost. There is but one thing to be done, removal to a more 
congenial climate." 

"And that you consider essential P" 

" Most decidedly." 

" Then it shall be done," said Mr. Bain. " However inconve- 
nient, m take her over to Cannes myself. No one in Monk*- 
hampton shiall be able to say I did less than my duty." 

" Bravely spoken, my dear sir. We all honour you for your 
devotion to your most estimable lady ; a devotion equally credit- 
able to you and its object," said Mr. Stimpson, as if he had been 
making an after-dmner speech. 

Mr. Bain, who held, like Macbeth, that whatever was well 
done when done, should be done quickly, announced his inten- 
tion of starting with the invalid on the next day but one. The 
girls made haste to pack their mother s trunks, tearfully yet 
not without hope. Cfannes to their minds meant restoration to 
health. Matilda Jane was to stay at home and keep house, and 
rule the boys, a hardy race of grammar-school students with 
unappeasable appetited. Clara Louisa was to accompany her 
motner as nurse and companion. 

" After all," thought Mr. Bain, " I don't see that anything 
^n go wrong in my absence. Sir Aubrey is likeljr to hold out 
in his present condition for some time to come, and if there were 
an^ appearance of a change Chapelain would write me word 
of it. 

Chapelain, the valet, had a profound respect for the lane 
steward, whom he regarded as actual master of Perriam Place 
Sir Aubrey since his illness was but the shadow or eidolon of 
his former self. Lady Perriam had but little power, and what 
little she possessed she seemed to hold at the pleasure of Mr. 
Bain. The valet told himself, therefore, that Shadrach Bain 
was the idol before which he must bow down, if he desired his 
service to he a pro£table one. Chapelain had reason to accord 
Mr, Bam even more subservience than, ia usuaW^ \^vietL \s3 % 



Svhiii 09^9 a Question, 255 

tfme-serving domestic to tlie powers that be, for lie was oon- 
Frioiis of failings which, if once discovered by the steward, 
might lead to his swift doom and downfalL It may have been 
the joyless monotony of Perriam Place, or it may have been 
some inherent weakness in the man himself, bnt, whatever the 
cause, it is certa Ji that since Sir Aubrey's illness Jean Chapelain 
had acquired the habit of taking more alcohol than was good for 
himself^ or for the household in which he served. He had always 
liked his comfortable glass, but had kept the propensity tolerably 
well in check so long as he feared Sir Aubrey's scrutiny. But 
of late, since his master's eyes had grown dull and unseeing, 
Jean Chapelain had given tne reins to his favouiite vice, and 
had allowed that fat^ charger to carry him very near the verge 
if ruin. 

The Perriam cellars were too well guarded by the faithful 
white-headed old butler, who had held the keys for the last 
twenty years, for Mr. Qiapelain to indulge his dangerous pro- 
pensity at his master's cost. He had a certain allowance of 
beer and wine, and a liberal one ; for servants, however faithful, 
are not apt to stint one another. They take a large view of 
servants' hall rations. But anything for which Mr. Chapelain 
craved beyond this ample allowance he had to provide for him- 
self ; and he did provide himself with some of the vilest brandy 
ever extracted from potatoes — brandy which was guiltless of 
grape juice, but which addled the valet's brain with a somewhat 
agreeable obfuscation, and took possession of his feet and legs, 
where it tortured him under the name of gout. 

Little by little, tortured by the gout, and solaced by the 
brandy which produced the gout, Jean Chapelain fell away from 
his duties in Sir Aubrey's rooms. 

The baronet, though apt to be peevish, and at times exacting, 
was not a very troublesome invahd, and there were few services 
he required wnich Mrs. Carter could not perform to his liking. 
He had taken a wonderful fancy to the sick nurse. Her quiet 
unobtrusive manner, her soft voice pleased him — even the sub- 
dued colour of her garments and her pale refined face were 
agreeable to him. Sometimes when Ibis mind was a little 
weaker than usual he would mistake her for his wife, address 
her as Sylvia, and remain unconscious of his error till Lady 
PeiTiam entered the room, when he would look wonderingly 
from oTie to the other. 

Thas it hat opened, ^^^ ^^^ nurse being always on duty, that 
no one complained of Jean's Chapelam's inattention. He 
dressed his master iji ihe morning, but was verv often out oi 
the way when Sir Aubrey went to bed at night. On these 
occasions the goiit furnished him with an Q^ex t^«A^ qil^x^s^r^ 

** J^Ij legs have martyiized: me the eveimi^r ^"^ '^w^^ ^"^ *^^ 



S56 Taken ai the Mood. 

Mrs. Garter, in his curious Englisb, "and I could net it 
descend. I hope the Old did not ask me." 

" The Old," was Mr. Chapelain's name for Sir Aubrey. 

Mr. Bain left Monkhampton with his wife and dau^ter 
about the middle of February — nearly a year after Sir Aubrey's 
paralytic seizure, and about seven months after the birth of 
that baby heir, who had been baptized without pomp or splen- 
dour of any kind at the little church in the deu. At the 
baronet's express desire, repeated many times, without varia- 
tion, his infant son had been christened St. John Aubrey, th( 
more surely to perpetuate that friendship which had obtained 
between Sir Aubrey's ancestor and the brilliant statesman. 

The child had grown and flourished in the dull old house, a 
vigorous sapling. The servants were never tired of praising 
him. He had Sir Aubrey's blue eyes, or such eyes as Sir 
Aubrey's had been when they too looked joyously and igno- 
rantly on life's glad morning. He had not inherited those 
wondrous hazel orbs of his mother's, and indeed bore no resem- 
blance to Sylvia, either in feature or expression. 

That interview with Mary Peter had told Lady Perriam very 
little about her lost lover, but when Miss Peter brought home 
the dress that had been entrusted to her for manufacture, the 
f>alk between i^e dressmaker and her patroness again fell upon 
Mr. Standen's affairs. 

"T think it's a settled thing now, my lady," Miss Peter 
remarked, as she tried on the dress, and settled a fold here, and 
pinched a trimming into place there. 

" What is a settled thing P " asked Sylvia. 

'* Between Mr. Standen and Miss Bochdale. I met Ihcm out 
walking in Hedingham yesterday, quite like sweethearts." 

" How do you mean like sweethearts P " 

" Well, 1 don't know. He had such an attentive way with 
him, and was carrying her waterproof. Besides it's in every- 
body's mouth at Hedingham. Alice Cook got it from her father, 
and her father had it from Mr. Yancourt himself, and he'd be 
likely to know." 

Sylvia said nothing, but suffered the business of trjring on as 
quietly as if she had been a statue. 

" Tney say it's to be in the spring, as soon as Mrs. Sargent 
leaves off crape. She'll have worn it more than a year and a 
half by that time." 

"Unfasten the dress," said Sylvia, imperatively; "you've 
Almost strangled me." 

Her breath came thick and fast, as if the dress had indeed 
been tight enough to throttle her. 

" Yet it isD 't a bit tifrH about the throat," said Miss Peter, as 
ifbe unfastened the bodr ^ " twelve inchea— ^OTit cA^ miiasMx? " 



Sylvia asks a Question. 257 

After that day there came a restlessness upon Lady Perriam 
which she strove in vain to conquer. Were these two going 
to be married ? That was the question which tormented hei; 
the question which was perpetually repeating itself in her dis- 
tracted mind. There were times when her own release seemed 
BO near, when she believed that Sir Aubrey's sand ran low in 
the glass of Time. Yet what avail widowhood and liberty, if 
he whose love she counted upon regaining were to wed another 
before the day of her freedom. 

She could not sit quietly at home to consider this question, 
but ordered her carriage, and told the man to drive to Oropley 
Common, a drive which must take her past Dean House anS 
through Hedingham. 

Nurse Tringfold and the baby went with her, the customary 
companions of her drives ; but to-day she took even less notice 
than usual of the infantile St. John's endearing ways. She 
wrapped herself in her own thoughts, and sat looking out of 
the window with a gloomy brow. 

They passed Dean House, but the untenanted windows looked 
blankly down at her, telling nothing of the interior. They 
drove through Hedingham without meeting a creature whom 
Svlvia knew, and thus on to Cropley Common, a wide waste 
of broken ground, clothed with furze and heather, commanding 
the distant sea, and far to the left the little sandy bay, and 
white walled town of Didmouth. 

Here, even in winter, it was pleasant to walk on the close- 
cropped turf, though not on the loose ragged gravel road up 
which the horses struggled with their load. Half-way up the 
hill the coachman stopped at a bend of the road where there 
was a bit of a level which served as a landing stage for vehicles, 
and here Lady Perriam and the nurse alighted for a walk on 
the common. 

To-day Sylvia — never fond of the nurse's company — was par- 
ticularly indisposed to be social. She walked on rapidly, with 
her light footstep, winding in and out among the hillocks and 
furze bushes, and leaving nurse Tringfold in the distance, trying 
to pacify the complaining baby, who was afflicted by an obstinate 
bottom tooth. 

How bare and desolate the landscape looked in the bleak 
winter! The day, which had been bright enough when they 
came, wus now darkened by black watery clouds. Distant 
Didmouth gleamed whitely against a storm-charged sky. But 
Lady Perriam was singularly indifferent to that ominous dark- 
ening of the heavens. She had walked about half a mile away 
from nurse Tringfold and the carriage when she wa.a aj^'^ka's^^^ 
from her reverie by big drops of rain.. 

She had neither cloak nor umbxeWa, \iOx 'va^ NiXifct^ vcv^ \^c»s* 



258 Taken at the Flot*d. 

Shelter than the carriage; not even a gipsy ercampment or a 
hawker's cart within view. 

Sylvia looked round her helplessly, not very much minding 
the rain, but with a sense of desolation at being thus filone and 
nnprotected. 

The sky had darkened almost to night. They had started 
for their drive directly after luncheon, yet it seemed evening 
ateady. 

While she was thus looking round, a dark figure came be- 
tween her and the sombre sky, a figure armed with that 
indispensable companion for a west country pedestrian, a large 
umbrella. 

" Let me take you back to your carriage. Lady Perriam," 
said the pedestrian. He was that one man whose voice Sir 
Aubrey's wife most feared, most longed to hear. 

The sound of that voice coming suddenly upon her took her 
breath away. That Edmund Standen should speak to her at 
all seemed wonderful. To her mind — remembering that bitter 
look in the churchyard — it would have appeared more natural 
that he should pass her by and leave her to battle with the 
' elements alone. 

** Ton are very kind, Mr. Standen," Lady Perriam answered 
with well assumed indifference. " Yes, I shall be very gratefnl 
for the shelter of your umbrella. This kind of down-pour ig 
rather overwhelming." 

Edmund Standen held his umbrella over her head, but did 
not offer her his arm. He had not desired such a meetings- 
nay, would gladly have avoided it; but he could hardly leave 
his sometime love to be half drowned on Cropley Common. 
There was nothing romantic in their encounter. Indeed that 
nmbrella shared between them savoured of the ridiculous. 

" '\Yhere did you leave your carriage, Lady Perriam P ** asked 
Mr. Standen* He seemed to find a pleasure in giving her the 
benefit of her title. 

" At the bend of the road, half way up the hill ; I can hardly 
lee my way back to it." 

" You may trust yourself to my guidance. I know Cropley 
Common very well indeed. I often come here for a lonely 
ramble." 

After this he could hardly avoid offering Sylvia his arm. 
The ground was rugged, and slippery with the rain ; her feet 
stumbled now and then. 

She felt that the time was short. If she wanted to resolve 
her doubts, she must speak quickly, no matter how abrupt her 
questioning might seem. 

"/ wonder you have any time for lonely rambles," she said; 
** I hear you are very much occupied." 



%lma asks a Question. 259 

" With, the boainess of the bank P Yes, I work rather hard 
there sometimes. Fortunately for me, I like the work." 

** But I heard that you had another and pleasanter occupation 
for your time, in the society of a young lady to whom you are 
engaged to be married." 

" Fray who is that young lady P " Edmund asked coolly. 

" Miss Kochdale." 

" And from whom did you hear the report P " 

". From common rumour." 

*' Common rumour is a common liar. I am not engaged to 
Miss Eochdale." 

"Nor likely to be P" 

" I will not say as much as that. There is ho knowing when 
a man, who has missed his first chance of happiness, may seek 
a milder form of joy in a second venture. There is only one 
summer in a man's life, but CKitumn is sometimes a warm and 
genial season. There is that serene and beautiful autumn 
which is called an Indian summer. I may have my Indian 
summer yet." 

" Witn Miss Eochdale, I suppose," said Sylvia. 

" Why not with Miss Eochdale P She is a girl who might 
make any man's happiness, one would think — pretty, amiable, 
iefined, intellectual, unselfish. What more can a man ask for 
in the wife of his choice P " 

" I see rumour has not been false, Mr. Standen." 

** Why do you trouble yourself about my fate now, Lady 
Perriam P It gave you very little concern a year and a haft 
ago when you married Sir Aubrey. As you did not think 
ajBout my happiness then, you need hardly consider it now. I 
live, you see ; that is something. Here we are at your carriage." 

The footman opened the carriage door. Edmund saw the 
baby, splendid in purple and fine linen, fast asleep just now, 
and therefore a picture of infantine serenity, fle touched the 
round, soft cheek gently with his finger, unseen by the mothei 
whose eyes, gloomy and despairing, were averted from him. 

Lady Pemam hardly thanked Mr. Standen for the shelter of 
his umbrella, hardly replied to his courteous " Qood eveninjj," 
and was driven away through rain and darkness with a gnawing 
l>ain at her heart. 



Taken at the FlooA 



CHAPTER XLn. 

STAllTLINO NEWS FOR MB. BAIN. 

Befobk leaviD^ Monkhampton Mr. Bain had taken pains tc 
impress upon nis eldest son, a lad of sixteen, who had been 
exalted from a desk at the grammar school to a stool in his 
father's of&ce, the necessity of keeping the absent head of the 
firm well acquainted with anything and everything that might 
happen at Perriam likely to affect his interests, were it ever so 
slightly. 

" I aon't see that anything can happen,'* said Mr. Bain, after 
dwelling npon these instructions. " Everything has gone on 
like clockwork at the Place ever since Sir Aubrey's illness, and 
nothing less than his death could throw things out of gtiar. 
But there's no such thing as certainty in life, and one can t be 
too much on one's guard. You must call twice a week at the 
Place while I'm away, see Lady Perriam, and hear how things 
are going on from her own lips." 

The youth shrank shyly from the idea of such temerity. He 
had seen Lady Perriam 's yellow chariot before shop doors in 
the High-street, had beheld the lady herself come forth, beau- 
teous and in splendid raiment, a being who scarcely seemed to 
tread the ground across which her graceful form passed. There 
was something appalling in the thought of making an uninvited 
morning call upon a divinity. 

" Suppose Lady Perriam refuses to see meP" suggested the 
youth. 

*• She'll not refuse if you say that it was my wish you should 
see her." 

"I suppose she thinks a great deal of yon, father," said 
Dawker. The eldest son had been christened Dawker in com« 
piiment to his mother's family. 

" I believe I have some influence with her," replied Mr. Bain, 
with reserve. 

"She's ioUy handsome, isn't sheP" exclaimed Dawker, be- 
trayed by his enthusiasm. 

*' Jolly is not an adjective to be heard in a respectable house- 
hold, Dawker," Mr. Bain remarked, sternly. "If I had said 
such a word in my father's presence, he'd have caned me." 

This was a favourite form of reproof with Shadrach Bain. 
His children had been brought up in a wholesome awe of those 
punisbmenta which they had just escaped by a generation. 
L. Maying given hia son detailed inBtructionA ca \a '^iVu^'W^^aL 



Startling UTews for Mr, Bain 261 

to do, Mr. Bain left Monkbampton almost easy in his mind. If 
what Davvker had to tell were unimportant, he was to communi- 
cate with his parent by letter, but if the news were vital he was 
to telegraph. 

For three weeks Mr. Bain remained quietly at Canne*^ 
watching Louisa's lamp of life faintly reviving, till it burned 
dimly, yet with daily increasing steadiness, or so it seemed to 
the husband. 

"She will last another summer," he said to himself medi- 
tating upon this apparent return of strength. " Strange how 
many false alarms we have had since her health first bega n to 
fail ! How long the attenuated thread holds out ! " 

Dawker wrote to his father twice a week, like a dutiful son, 
and the head clerk wrote every other day, forwarding all 
important documerits, or copies thereof, for his principoTa 
perusal. Dawker's letters were as empty of intelligence as it 
was possible for letters to be. He told of his calls at Perriam 
Place, and how Lady Perriam had condescended to see him on 
every occasion, and had told him that Sir Aubrey's health was 
pretty much as usual. Dawker varied the wording occasionally, 
but the gist of his letter was always the same. 

Three weeks at Cannes had more than exhausted the pleasures 
of that tmnquil retreat. Peri*ect though Mr Bain was inhis capa- 
city of husband, the monotony and seclusion of his wife's apart- 
ment wearied him, and now tnat Mrs. Bain was obviously better, 
he began to meditate immediate flight. His business was not one 
to be left long with impunity, he told the gentle Louisa. 

" You'll have Clara Louisa to keep you company when I am 
gone," said Shadracli ; and Mrs. Bain submitted with all 
meekness to the loss of her husband's society as a melancholy 
necessity. 

Mr. Bain, anxious as he had seemed to leave Cannes, did not 
go back to Monkhampton without loss of time by the way. He 
nad heard a great deal about the delights of Paris, from fellow- 
townsmen more given to pleasure than himself; men who 
deemed a week's holiday in the gay French capital the crowning 
reward of a year's drudging amidst the dullness of a country 
town. Heretofore Mr. Bain had caught only flying glimpses of 
the wonderful city. But he was now determined to waste four 
or five days in tasting those enjoyments in the way of dinners, 
^afeSf chantants, circuses, and so on, which his Monkhampton 
icquaintances had dilated upon so rapturouslv. He wanted to 
Bee if to dine at a noted restaurant was reallv to rise to the 
level of the gods, he wanted to hear the Therese or Lolotte of 
the day — to see circuses which recalled the glories of Im^T\aL 
Bome — to be able in a word to say, "\\joo 'Vi^-^^ >a;?iv^r "^^ 
mu a man who cared very Utt\e iox pVeaavvt^ \s^ V^ ^^ '^^^ 



262 Taken at the Flood. 

like being quite behind his neighbours in the knowledge 
of Kfe. 

So, without saying a word of his intennon to Mrs. Bain, 
lest he should grie/e that gentle soul by the idea that he could 
prefer the novel dissipations of the capital to her society, 
Shadrach left Cannes for Paris, meaning to put up at an hotel 
recommended to him by Tom Westropp, the auctioneer, one of 
the wildest spirits in Monkhampton. As he had said nothing 
of this Parisian holiday at Cannes, he meant tp be equally 
reticent at Monkhampton ; or, if he alluded at all to his stay in 
Paris, he would put it down to the ever-convenient score, busi- 
ness. It was very easy to name some imaginary client as the 
person who had detained him. 

Mr. Bain put up at the hotel so urgently recommended by 
Mr. Westropp. It turned out to be rather a dingy abode, not 
quite realizing the glowing picture presented by the auctioneer, 
who had, perhaps unconsciously, embellished the discourse of 
private life with the eloquence ot the rostrum. The bed-chamber 
allotted to Mr. Bain was on the ground floor, abutting on a 
darksome courtyard. The coffee-room where Mr. Bain took his 
solitary breakfast of beefsteak and fried potatoes was not a 
lively apartment. Altogether Mr. Bain thought that he had 
seen many an English inn more attractive of aspect than this 
famous hostelry. 

He took his fill of Parisian pleasures, saw all the horseman- 
ship to be seen in the Champs Elys^es, heard Ther^se and 
Lolotte, dined to his heart's content, and made himself bilious 
with new sauces and unaccustomed wines, and in four days had 
^ad as much of Parisian life as he cared about. He went home 
yearning for Monkhampton, his office, his iron safe, his letter 
look. After the bustle of that strange garish city his native 
town seemed to him the only delectable spot on earth. 

His clerk's letters had been wholly satisfactory, so he went 
home without any feeling of uneasiness. 

He had ^sent no intimation of return to his household, so that 
there was no dog-cart to meet him at the station when he 
arrived at Monkhampton, at about five o'clock in the after- 
noon, having been travelling since seven o'clock on the previous 
evening. 

He left his bag and portmanteau to be sent after him, and 
walked quietly home, opened the door, and went in. The house 
had its accustomed orderly loo^, not a chair out of its place* 
Nothing could have gone wrong here, he thought. 

It was tea time, always a comfortable hour in homely middle- 
class houses — an hour of rest and respite from the care and 
toil of the day. Mr. Bain went into the dining-room, which 
was cheerfolly lighted with gas and a blazing fire. The healthy 



Startling News, for Mr, Bain, 268 

tribe of junior Bains was assemJbled vonnd the capacious table, 
Matilda Jane ministering to their numerous wants. A sub- 
stantial quartern loaf was succumbing beneath the slashing 
cuts of Humphrey, the second boy, while Maria, the third girl, 
was doHng out a plain cake, a caie of such an unpretending 
nature that but for a few currants and a spiinkling of caraway 
seeds, it might have passed for bread. Dawker, a boy of 
luxurious habits, was kneeling before the fire, toasting mufl5.ns 
bought with his own pocket money, muffins being luxuries which 
Mrs. Bain considered at once bilious and sinful. 

Altogether there was an air of enjoyment in the party, 
whi( h reminded Mr. Bain of a vulgar proverb about cats and 
mice^ and he had a slightly ofiended feeling at seeing how com- 
fortable his children could be without him. There was more 
noise than there was wont to be in his presence, the gas was 
gaming higher, the fire burned like a furnace. 

At sight of the head of the household all mirth ceased. 
Every father of a family is more or less awful when he bursts 
upon the home circle without any note of waniing. 

" Good gracious, pa ! ** shrieked Matilda Jane, conscious of 
the open volume of a novel lurking beside the tea tray. " What 
a start you did give me ! " 

"Weve been expecting you every minute for the last four 
days," said Dawker, laying down his toasting-fork in the fender, 
and abandoning his muflSi to its fate. " Didn't you get my 
telegram P *' 

" What telegram P " inquired Mr. Bain, uneasily. 

" The one I sent to Cannes last Thursday. I made sure you'd 
come back as fast as the trains and boat would carry you." 

Last Thursday — ^nearly a week ago. This was Wednesday. 

" What did you telegraph about, boy P " 

" To tell you of Sir Aubrey's death." 

" Sir Aubrey's death I " echoed Shadrach Bain, aghast. *' Is 
Sir Aubrey Perriam dead P " 

" Yes, father. He died suddenly on Wednesday night. We 
didn't hear of it till Thursday evening, only just in time to 
telegraph. The clerk said the telegram might not reach Cannes 
till Friday morning." 

Mr. Bain had left Cannes for Paris by the nighv mail on 
Thursday evening. 

** We got a leltter from Clara Louisa on Monday to say that 
you'd left, and would be home before her letter. So when yoti 
didn't come home, we didn't know what to think had become of 
you. 

" Ton seem to have made yourself pretty comfortable under 
the circumstances," said Mr. Bain, grimly. " Sir Aubrey dead I 
I can hardly bring myself to believe it. Dead, and I out of tha 



264* Taken at the Flood. 

way when he died ! I wouldn't have had it happen for a great 
deal. Dead — bnried, I suppose." 

" Yes, father. The funeral was this morning — a very quiet 
funeral. I went over to have a look, though I wasn't a^ed4 
There were only Lady Perriam, Mr. Stimpson, and the servants, 
for mourners." 

" Mordred Perriam followed his brother to the grave, I sup- 
pose?" 

" No, father. Mr. Perriam has kept his room ever since you've 
been away. He's been getting queerer and queerer for a long 
time people say, and now he's altogether gone — nan compos." 

" People say I What people P " 

** Well, the servants at the Place. I was up there yesterday 
afternoon and had a longish talk with the housekeeper. I 
wanted to see Lady Perriam, you know, as it was your wish I 
should call upon her twice a week — but she hasn't seen any one 
except Mr. Stimpson and the clergyman since Sir Aubrey's 
death. But I saw Mrs. Spicer, and the old lady was uncom- 
monly sociable, and told me a lot about Mr. Perriam aud his 
queer ways. His brother's death has quite done for him, she 
says, and he won't look at anybody. Mrs. Carter, the nurse, 
has to wait upon him hand ana foot, pretty much the same as 
she did upon Sir Aubrey." 

'^ Humph," muttered the steward, " that's easily seen through. 
Mrs. Carter knows when she has a good place, and doesn't want 
to lose it. Now Sir Aubrey's gone she'll pretend her services 
are wanted by his brother. Has the will been read yet P " 

" No, father. Lady Perriam said it was to be kept for you 
to read when you came back," 

"Very considerate of Lady Perriam," replied Mr. Bain. 
"And now, Matilda Jane, if there's no cold meat in the house 
you'd better get me a chop — or a steak. I've had nothing 
since I breakfasted at a conee-house near the London Bridge 
Terminus." 

Matilda Jane flew to obey her father's behest. A sober quiet 
had descended upon the family circle. The more tender of the 
olive branches crammed their young mouths with plain cake, 
and stared open-eyed at the author of their being. Dawker, 
who, being in the transition period between boy and manhood, 
had an exaggerated sense of his own importance, sipped his tea 
^th affected ease, and tried to look as if he was not afraid of 
his father. 

Startling as was the news of Sir Aubrey Perriam's sudden 

death, Shadrach Bain seemed to take it with an admirable 

coolness. He took off his coat and wraps, settled himself in his 

arm-chair hy the Are, and sat in meditative contemplation of 

ihe glowing coalB, but with no shade oi -oxifia^^^.^ -^^tl hxa 



Startling News for Mr, Bain. 2G3 

thoughtful brow. Sir Anbrey's death in no manner disarranged 
the plans which the land steward had made for his future life. 
On the contrary, it fitted in with them — it was one of the 
events in his programme — calculated upon ever so long ago. It 
had only come some years — say about ten years — before he 
eipected it. One of the obstacles upon that broad high road, 
along which Mr. Bain designed to travel to the winning-post, 
had been removed. 

About his late employer's will Mr. Bain felt no uneasiness. 
He had drawn up the document himself, a few months after 
Sir Aubrey's marriage; and he had no fear of the baronet 
having made any subsequent will. He knew that he had to the 
last enjoyed Sir Aubrey's fullest confidence, and that in the 
decay of thought and memory the invalid had leaned upon him 
as upon a crutch. 

Thus there was nothing uncomfortable in Shadrach Bain's 
meditations as he sat by his warm hearth while the disordered 
tea table was restored to order, and cruet-frame and pickle- 
stand, beer jug and decanter of sherry, were set forth on a 
spotless table-cloth neatly laid across that end of the table 
nearest to Mr. Bain's arm-chair. 

Some natural sorrow he may have felt for the death of the 
man who had been in some wise the author of his fortunes ; 
but in Mr. Bain's practical mind all undue lamenting for de- 
parted friends appeared at once foolish and morbid ; a diseased 
indulgence, an irrational sensibility. He would have a band 
put upon his hat to-morrow, and by that outward mark of woe 
reduce his regret to a symbol. That done, he would feel he had 
done his duty to the dead. 

Had the Perriam estate been about to pass to Horace Perriam, 
the unknown heir-at-law, Mr. Bain would have felt considerable 
uneasiness and uncertainty. The heir-at-law might have 
cherished particular views of his own about the property, and 
might have dismissed Mr. Bain from his stewardship: but 
Providence, ever kind to the Bain family, had been pleased to 
bless Sylvia Perriam with offspring, and the existence of that 
baby boy, still struggling with the advance guard of his teeth, 
made things very smooth for the land steward. 

Well did he remember the making of Sir Aubrey's will — how 
just at the last he had ventured to suggest that there should be 
some trustee named, to protect the estate of the expected heir 
— or the portion of the heiress, should fate refuse to grant Sir 
Aubrey a son — ^in the event of the baronet's death before the 
child came of age. 

Mj. Bain recced Sir Aubrey's offended look as he said^ " I 
hope you don't consider me sucK Bi "verj «Ai^ Taasa. *OQaX»^ ^-wss^iw 
posahly live to see my children gto^ "tty** 



266 Taken at the Fhod. 

" No, indeed, Sir Aubrey, I am only anxious to provide tOf 
a remote contingency," the steward had answered. 

" You men of busmess are so tiresome. Yery well, if I must 
appoint a trustee, put in your own name. It will do as well aa 
any other." 

This happened to dovetail into a corner of Mr. Bain's phan- 
tasmal edifice — that airy erection — built with profoundest cal- 
culation, which symbolized his future. 

He put his own name into the wiU as trustee and joint 
executor with Lady Perriam. Beyond this honourable distinc- 
tion Sir Aubrey left him the sum of one thousand pounds 
sterling, in acknowledgment of his faithful services during a 
prolonged period. It was no large reward for service so un- 
tiring, so profitable to the employer; but Sir Aubrey did not 
make the bequest without a mental wrench. He did not like 
dividing his money after death; it seemed almost as bad as 
parting with it during his life. 

Mr. Bain ate a well-cooked steak and a couple of pickled 
walnuts with as good an appetite as if there had been nothing 
on his mind. He liked this plain English fare, this solid beef 
and bread, washed down with amber-hued bitter beer, better 
than the familiar kickshaws of the Maison Dor^e or Philippe's. 
He liked the sober comfort of his home, the deferential com- 

Eanionship of his children, who worshipped him as a superior 
eing, and trembled at the creaking of his boots. He hked ^he 
snug retirement of his office, where he spent the rest of that 
evening, looking through the record of work that had been doue 
in his absence, and wasting some little time in thinking how 
Lady Perriam would be affected by her widowhood. 

"Will she try to lure Edmund Standen back to herP" he 
asked himself. And this time his brow was darkly clouded, as 
if his thoughts were full of gloom. 



CHAPTER XLIIL 

OH, VERT GLOOMY IS THE HOUSE OP WOB. 

Perrum Pla.ce without Sir Aubrey looked exactly the same as 

it had looked beneath his quiet rule. Strange that in the many 

ibrms which our grief for the lost assume there is none harder 

L to bear than this c hangelessness in inanimate things, this im< 



oil, very Gloomy is the Hotcse of Woe. 267 

mutable aspect of looms aad corridors, wHch are just the same 
as when that missing footstep trod them. At Ferriam there 
were few to lament deeply for the departed master. Unless i^ 
were in that closed and guarded chamber where Mordred Per- 
riam languished under the care of the sick nurse, there was no 
such thing as passionate grief for the dead. The servants 
mourned him decently, shed occasional tears by way of tribute 
to his memory, sat late over their supper table, talking of his 
odd ways, and hia small economies, against which they felt no 
resentment, while he had been liberal in the maintenance of 
kitchen and servants' hall, falling without question into the 
routine of his forefathers, and consented to pay for as many 
kilderkins of beer and as much butcher's meat as his ancestors 
had paid for before him. The servants lamented their lord with 
decent conventional grief, but were a good deal occupied with 
their own mourning, which was of the best, and furnished to 
them Uberally. " Lady Perriam has shown herself quite the 
lady in providing our black," the housekeeper remarked to her 
subordinates. 

Mr. Ganzlein had been given an order to supply all things 
necessary, and his assistants came backwards and forwards with 
bombazine and coburg, and crape and parramatta, and there 
W41S a pleasant bustle of preparation in the housekeeper's room 
and Still-room, where the maids sat by the fire running seams 
and stitching bodies, in an atmosphere odorous with glazed 
lining. 

How did Lady Perriam take this awful change P That was 
a question which haply no one at the Place could answer. She 
spent all her time in seclusion, shutting her door against sym- 
pathy. The death chamber, and her old dressing-room, and 
indeed that end of the house where Sir Aubrey's rooms and Mr. 
Perriam's were situated, she avoided as if the dead had been 
stricken by some hideous pestilence, and even in his last icy 
sleep could disseminate poison. She had ordered all her belong- 
ings to be transferred to the Bolingbroke Boom, a handsome 
chamber with a bay window over one end of the saloon. A 
smaller apartment, next to this. Lady Perriam transformed into 
a boudoir, and sent for a builder to cut a door of communication 
between the two rooms. On the other side of the bed-chamber 
there was a door already provided, opening into a fair-sized 
dressing-room. These three rooms Lady Perriam brightened 
and embellished with not a few modern luxuries in the way of 
furniture, ordered from the chief upholsterer of Monkhampton. 
An ash-wood writing cabinet, adorned with china plaques on 
which a modem artist's facile brush had sketched graceful 
groups of children at play in a landscape which changed^ with 
the seasons A pair of eo&a« an easy ahair or two^ onrtaiiui 



268 Taken at the Mood, 

a pale apple-green, lined witli the faintest lilao. Wliite sheep* 
skin rugs, to lie here and there like patches of snow npon th« 
sombre gloom of the carpets. A French clock, which might 
have kept careless record of Time's steady march for Sopnie 
Arnoult or Marguerite Gauthier : a stand for portfolios of en- 
gravings, a small bookcase filled with choice editions of Lady 
Perriam's favourite poets, bound in myrtle-green morocco. 

The acquirement of these things had been the first use which 
Sylvia made of her liberty. A childish employment, perhaps, 
for the solemn days between her husband's death and burial ; 
but the distraction served to keep dark thoughts at bay, and 
the Monkhampton upholsterer was the most discreet of men. 
The funeral had been entrusted to his care ; and it was after 
arranging the details of t»hat melancholy ceremonial that Lady 
Perriam gave Mr. Scruto the order for those little comforts 
which were needed to make the Bolingbroke suite habitable. 
Lady Perriam dwelt upon this point. She only wanted to make 
the rooms habitable. 

" There is so little actual comfort in old-fashioned furniture," 
she said. Mr. Scruto, with a natural prejudice against all 
furniture not supplied by himself, heartily assented to this 
proposition. 

He sent in the goods for Lady Perriam's rooms under covei 
of the winter dusk, as stealthily as if they had been coffins ; and 
the transformation of the apartments was made so quietly that 
the always-sitting Vehm Gericht in the servants' hall passed 
no vote of censure upon my lady's proceedings. 

Mr. Bain looked round him with unmixed surprise when he 
was ushered into Lady Perriam's boudoir on the morning after 
his return. The change in her suri-oundings struck him curi- 
ously. It was as if some chrysalis of his acquaintance had sud- 
denly developed into a butteray. 

Those apple-green curtains of lustrous silken damask, those 
snow-white nigs, so deep and soft that he felt it a kind of sacri- 
lege to tread upon them, the ash wood bookcase and bureau on 
either side of the fireplace gave a new character to the room. 
The bureau was opened and littered with papers; two or three 
Tolumes of the poets, in their green and gold bindings, lay on 
the little rustic table by Lady Perriam's chair. The mistress of 
the luxurious chamber lolled in her low arm-chair, her beauty 
enhanced and set off by the blackness of her weeds. 

Shadrach Bain halted in the middle of the room, almost 
dazzled by this unexpected picture. She had lost no time in 
gratifying her tastes, and had begun to live immediately upon 
her husband's death, thought the steward. 

Lady Perriam received him graciously, but with a certain 
^distant mannei which he felt was intended to keep him farther 



07if very Gloomy is the Souse of Woe. 269 

from friendliness or familiarity than lie had been during Sir 
Aubrey's lifetime. She begged him to be seated* but the chair 
to which she pointed was remote from her own. 

Mr. Bain expressed his regret for her loss, his sympathy with 
her grief. She listened gravely to his condolences, and thanked 
him for them, but she did not enter upon any exposition of hei 
feelings. She allowed her sorrow to be taken for granted, sym- 
bolized by her widow's cap, as Mr. Bain's grief was symbolized 
by his hatband. 

'* I have not allowed the will to be read," she said presently; 
** I thought it only right that you should be the person to read 
it, as you were Sir Aubrey's agent and adviser." 

" Sir Aubrey honoured me with his confidence," answered the 
steward; " I trust I may be also favoured with yours. Left so 
young in a position of no little responsibility, you will need a 
faithful adviser." 

He was thinking how lovely she looked in that sombre dress, 
with the ruddy light of the fire playing among the red gold of het 
hair, reflecting itself in the deep hazel eyes, so dark, so inscim- 
table when she turned them upon him with their steady gaze. 
She was not afraid to look him in the face, even if she feared 
him. Whatever the peril that threatened her it was in her 
nature to meet it boldly. 

" I am not particularly fond of advice, Mr. Bain," she said, 
** and young as I am I feel quite capable of treading any path I 
may choose for myself, without leading-strings. But so long 
as you serve the rerriam estate faithfully, you will find me 
ready to place the fullest confidence in you— as my son's land 
steward.* 

Mr. Bain fully understood the meaning of this speech. He 
was to be relegated to his proper position as collector of rents, 
and preparer of leases and agreements, overlooker of improve- 
ments, and so on. He was no longer to exercise an influence 
over the life of Lady Perriam herself^ 

She felt no gratitude for the liberal supplies of money which 
he had obtained for her, no gratitude for the influtnce which 
had always been exerted in her behalf. She took the first oppor- 
tunity to emancipate herself froip the bondage of interference. 

There was a brief interval of silence, during which Shadrach 
Bain sat looking at the carpet, with a clouded brow. For once in 
his life the land steward was taken thoroughlj^ by surprize. He 
had not expected Lady Perriam to take this decisive tone, to 
assert her independence so boldly. He thought the restraints 
of her married life had schooled her into submission, and that, 
finding herself suddenly standing alone in the world, on a height 
that snould have made her giddy, she would naturally have 
turned to him for counsel and assistance. He had done his 



270 Txken at the Mood. 

uttermost to prove himself her friend ; jet she now treated him 
ViS if he had shown himself her enemy. 

" She is not a woman to be swayed by kindness," he thought. 
" She must be ruled with an iron hand. Easy enough to rule 
Buch a woman if one had but a hold upon her." 

" When do you propose to read the will, Mr. Bain ? " Lady 
Perriam asked, after that pause in the conversation. 

"Whenever it may be most convenient to yourself, Lady 
Perriam." 

" It cannot be too soon for me. I wish to know my exact 
position in this house." 

" I do not think there can be any doubt as to your position ; 
nor do you seem to have entertained any uncertainty upon the 
subject," said Mr. Bain, with a glance round the room. 

" You allude to my additions to the furniture of this room," 
returned Sylvia, interpreting the look. " I can easily remove 
these things if 1 have no longer any right to inhabit Perriam." 

" There is no reason why I should affect a mystery upon the 
subject of Sir Aubrey's will. Lady Perriam. The only will 
that I know him to have made was drawn up by me. It leaves 
you sole mistress of Perriam during your son's minority. Had 
you been a childless widow, you would have had only five 
thousand a year under your settlement, and three out of those 
five thousand you would have owed to my influence. Sir 
Aubrey proposed to settle only two thousand. But he was 
more liberal to the mother of his child than he was inclined to 
be to his wife, and your marriage settlement gives you the 
right to occupy Perriam Place during your son's minority. 
There is also an allowance of a thousand a year for your son's 
maintenance, provided for in the settlement. This, with the 
five thousand which is yours unconditionally, will give you six 
thousand per annum — an income which Sir Aubrey could not 
have given you had he not possessed large resources outside 
the Perriam estate proper. And I may venture to say, without 
presumption, that he owes much of that wealth to the careful 
management of my father and myself, during a period of half 
•I century." 

Six thousand a year ! A handsome income for the school- 
inaster's daughter, who had so often sighed vainly tor half-a- 
crown to buy a pair of gloved, for whom the middle-class com* 
forts of genteel life at Hedingham had seemed as far off as 
the joys of Paradise. Sylvia's countenance, which had worn 
an mscrutable look during this interview with Mr. Bain, 
changed ever so little at this announcement. The oval cheek 
grew paler than before, and a sudden light flashed into the hazel 
eyes. Transient was this indication of emotion. Nothing could 
l>e calmer than Lady Perriam's tone when she spoke. 



M, very Gloomy U the Souse of Woe. 271 

** Sir Aubrey has been only too good to me," she said. " Can 

Jrou read the will to-morrow morning? I daresay there are 
egacies to some of the old servants, and they will be anxious 
to learn their fates." 

" To-morrow at twelve o'clock, if you please. Lady Perriam. 
Will you go with me to Sir Aubrey's room to look for the will P 
I know where he kept it." Lady Ferriam's cheek, so pale a 
few moments ago, grew ashy white now. 

" I have a horror of that room," she said; **but if you like 
ril go with you," nerving herself for the ordeal, and rising from 
her luxurious nest by the fire. 

She took some keys from a drawer in the desk, and left the 
room, followed at a respectful distance by Shadrach Bain. 
They went along the west corridor, across an open landing at 
the top of the grand staircase, and into the east corridor, which 
led to Sir Aubrey's apartments. Sir Aubrey's no longer. 

The door of tne dressing-room, which the baronet had used 
as his sitting-room, was locked. There is something awful in 
those locked doors of deserted rooms which have lately been 
inhabited by the dead. Lady Perriam turned the key with a 
steady han<( and went in, followed by the steward. 

The room had been cleaned and aired since Sir Aubrey's 
death, and all traces of his existence thrust away. The chairs 
were ranged against the wall, everything in its place, the 
window wide open to the bleak March sky, as if in obedience 
to that Jewish tradition which counsels the opening of case- 
ments to assist the escape of the departed soul. 

The desk which Mr. Bain had to examine was not in the 
dressing- room. He opened the door of communication between 
the two rooms, but on the threshold of the bed-chamber Sylvia 
drew back with a scared look. 

" Is it in there?" she. asked, with a shuddering glance at th* 
tall funeral bed — that bed which, at its best, had reminded her 
of a catafalque. The blinds were down, and the shadowy room 
made darker by the deep brown of the oak paneling. The wide 
and lofty fireplace looked like the entrance to a cavern. 

• Come in. Lady Perriam," said Mr. Bain, looking back at 
her, wondering at this show of weakness in one who had seemed 
so firm. " I want you to be present when I open Sir Aubrey's 
desk." 

She followed him into the room, shivering in spite of herself, 
and drew near the table on which the desk stood. It was close 
beside that awful bed. 

" So, my lady," thought Shadrach, noting her look of horror, 
"I have found out your weak point, have IP This disinclina- 
tion to be reminded of your husuand's death looks like remorse 
for some wrong done to him during his life." 



i 



808 Taken at the Flood. 

Edmund Standen would driye most likely, and would oome thia 
way. 

More than once sHe had thought of his em|>l(mnent at the 
bank. It was jost ^ssible, after all, that he might not be able 
to come till the evening— just like a shopman at Ganzlein's, who 
could only get out when the shop was shut. The idea was 
humiliating. He to be bound by any such restraint — he wlw 
had once been so grand a gentleman in her sight ! 

She walked all the way down the avenue — ^looking straight 
before her, between those two stiff lines of interminable monkey- 
trees—the taU elms risinff grandly on either side behmd them 
shutting out the world beyond Perriam. She looked straight 
before her for distant dog-cart, or pedestrian ; but there was 
nothing — nothing but the spiky branches, the soft spreading 
greenery of the elms, the grass, the long straight road diminish- 
mg to a point in the distance, the blue warm sky. 

Yes, there was something human in the remote distance. A 
few minutes ago he might have looked like a robin redbreast, 
with that spot of scarlet on his neck. Now he had developed 
into a distant boy. A telegraph boy evidently, with those 
patches of red which enlivened his garments. 

" Who would send me a telegram P " thought Sylvia, alarmed ; 
" not Edmund certainly." There was no telegraphic comm unica- 
tion between Hedingham and Perriam — no railway — ^no public 
conveyance — nothing but the rustic high road, the modest mea- 
dow path, the short cut by wood or corn-field. 

The boy came up the avenue whistling. What matter if he 
sometimes carried tidings of ruin or death P To him his avoca- 
tion was commonplace enough. He had no idea that he was a 
kind of spurious Mercury, messenger of gods and men. 

Lady Perriam stopped him as he came up to her. 

"What message have you there?" she asked. 

" A telegram for Lady Perriam." 

" Give it me. I am Lady Perriam." 

The boy looked at her suspiciously. 

" I*m bound to deliver it up at the Place," he said, " and get 
the time wrote on it. I beg your pardon, my lady, but I must 
stick to rules." 

"IVe a pencil," she said, "will that doP" emphasizing the 
question with a fat clean shilHng — not an attenuated worn-out 
button of a coin, but a full-bodied shilling. 

" Pencils don't do in general," answered the boy, " but 1*11 sec 
if I can make it do this time." 

Lady Perriam filled in the hour^t.l5 — ^more than time that 
Edmund should have come, and dismissed the boy. 

Then she read her telegram. 

" From Edmund Standen, London, to Lady Penian*^ ^erriam 



Sylvia is Disappointed* 809 

Place, near Monkhampton." " Edmnnd Standen, London I * 
Were the telegraph clerks mad to write such nonsense P 

" I have left Hedingham, for an indefinite time, on my way 
to Germany. After what happened last night it is my only 
fonrse. I could not face home difficulties, and thought it well 
for all interests that I should be away. More by letter." 

" Coward ! " whispered Sylvia, with a serpent-like hiss ; " is 
Jhis what his love is worth, after all — his love, for which I hav« 
hazarded so much?" 



CHAPTER LL 

BANDOM SHOTS. 

The receipt of that telegram was a blow that struck home. 
Sylvia had brought her lover to her feet, as she firmly believed, 
and behold, at the moment when she felt most certain of his 
allegiance he had been able to leave her for an indefinite period ! 
Was this the love that had subjugated will and honour last 
night in the moonlit churchyard ? 

Lady Perriam dragged hor steps slowly back to the house. 
What a weary length of monotonous turf she had to tread, 
with leaden, lingering feet ! She had come this way so gaily a 
little while ago, lookmg down the long vista for the figure she 
expected to see. She had felt so utterly sure of his coming, 
and, instead of that beloved presence, that strong hand clasping 
hers, there was nothing but the crumpled telegram in her 
feverish palm. 

" I suppose Mrs. Carter will be glad of this," she said to her- 
self bitterly, remembering the reproachful look that had chidden 
her wild talk of happiness. 

" She would like to see me in sackcloth and ashes, or branded 
on the fcrehead with a red-hot iron," thought Sylvia, brooding 
upon her mother's reproaches of last night. " She would con- 
sider that for my good. No harder judge than your penitent 
sinner." 

The afternoon sun beat down upon her head as she crossed 
the broad gravelled expanse before the hall door, and in this 
open sunlight she found herself face to face with that persor 
whom of aS others she dreaded ; for no definite reason, perhapa 
bat with an instinctive fear which reason could not dispel. 

Shadrach Bain met her in front of the hall door, whip in 
band, the dust of a long ride uDon his stout country-squireish 
boots. He had come to the Place by the servants' entranoa. 
from a round of inspection oa tha home farm. 



no Ibten ai the Flood. 

''They told me you were out, Lady Perriam,''' he said as lie 
shook hands with Sylvia, "bnt I could hardly believe it, cb 
such a blazing day, Imowing yonr predilection for closed Vene- 
tians and a cool room." 

"One must take a walk now and then," answered Sylvia^ 
coolly. She made no secret of her indifference to any sugges- 
tion of Mr. Bain's ; but the agent was not to be put down by 
those small tokens of disdain. He went on suggesting all the 
same, and would not see, or appear to see, that nis interest in 
her welfare was unappreciated and unwelcome. 

" Wouldn't it be wiser to choose the cool of the evening for 
your walk P " asked Mr. Bain. 

** If you were my doctor, Mr. Bain, I daresay I should ask 
your advice on that point," retorted Sylvia, ** but as you are 
not my medical adviser I prefer to consult my own inclina- 
tion." 

"If I were a doctor!" repeated Mr. Bain, with a curious 
little lauffh ; " that's a singular way of putting it. Lady Per- 
riam. If I were a doctor, I might do a great many things that 
I don't do now. If I were a doctor, I should want to see a 
little more than I do see of that poor half-cracked Mr. Perriam. 
If I were a doctor, I might want to know a little more than I 
do know of the manner of Sir Aubrey's death." 

That blanching cheek, which had been flushed by heat and 
anger a moment ago, told him that his shot had struck the 
mark. 

** How white and tired you look. Lady Perriam ! I am suxe 
that walk was a mistake. Gome into tne saloon and sit down 
for a little, before you go upstairs to your own rooms." 

They were in m)nt of the saloon; the sashes of the long 
windows were raised, and the butterflies floated in now and then 
upon the summer air, and cooled themselves in the stately gloom 
of that disused apartment. 

" I hate that room," said Sylvia, looking towards the open 
window with a shudder. 

"Because Sir Aubrey's paralytic stroke happened there. 
Yes, I can ikncy the association must be painful to one so 
truly attached to him as you were. Well, we won't go into the 
saloon. You seem to like the open air better. We'U go to the 
terrace. 1 want half an hour's talk with you." 

" What can you have to say to meP I thought we settled 
all business matters yesterday. 

" This is not exactly busmess — ^nothicg connected with the 
estate, that is to say." 

Lady Perriam walked by the steward's side as far as the 
Mpaoe, reluctantly, but wiui that feeling of helplessness which 
^B always eiperienced in Mr. Bain's presence. She ha tod him« 



Bandom Shot$. 811 

she teared him, and she always ended by snbm'tting to his will 
— that will which had ruled Sir Anbrey in days gone by, which 
had awed the tenants into closest adnerence to quarter days, 
and which had exercised itself in the vestry of Monkhampton, 
until it had made Mr. Baic a power in the sleepy old country 
town. 

She sank down with a tired air upon a seat on the terrace, a 
broad nj&rble sefit, in &n angle of the marble balustrade. An 
ancient orange tiee in a sculptured vase crowned ths angle, and 
screened this comer. 

"This is better than the saloon, isn't it, Lady Perriam?" 
asked Mr. Bain, as he seated himself by her side. 

" It will do very well," she answered coldly. 

No tinge of colour had come back to her marble-paJe cheeks. 
There was a dogged look in her face, the lips set tightly, the 
eyes looking straight before her, every feature accentuated by 
that intense expression. She looked like a woman who had 
nerved herself to face some fatal crisis in her life. 

" What do you want to say to me P " she asked, not looking 
at Mr. Bain, but always straight before her. 

What a different interview this was from the one she had 
expected! She had hoped to watch the sultry close of that 
afternoon with Edmund Standen by her side ; to have planned 
the future with him ; to have shown him the splendours of her 
hoDse — hers for the twenty long years; to have told him of her 
wealth, and that it should be his to spend as he pleased. Her 
smaller nature had never imagined Mr. Standen's probable repug- 
nance to wealth so won. 

" I want to talk to you about your own interests, your own 
reputation, Lady Perriam," said the agent, after a thoughtful 
pause. ** I need hardly remind you that the world is censorious, 
or that a woman in your position is an easy mark for slander." 

" What can any oiih find to say against mo P Is not my life 
secluded enough to preclude the possibility of slander ? " 

"That is just the question. Your life is too secluded tc 
satisfy the neighbourhood. You bury yourself ahve in Perriam 
Place ; and the malicious, who are always on the look-out for 
sinister motives, begin to ask if you have any secret to hide, 
that you keep so close within yonder walls. From one specula- 
tion they have passed to another. As a man of business I get 
to hear these things. I may outstep my functions as your busi- 
ness adviser — your son's guardian — in broaching this subject to 
you ; but, right or wrong, I consider it my duty to put you in 
possession of the truth." 

" Pray ^o on, sir. What is your Monkhampton gossips' com- 
plaint against mo P '* 

"lit is not a complaint; it is no positive statement. Yaaff 



ai2 2bken at the Flood, 

ttnemies — tlxat is to say, the grocers yon don't deal witk. tlie 
butcher whose..jival supplies your household — can allege nothing 
against you. But people begin to wonder and speculate about 
the close restraint in which you keep Mr. Perriam. If he ia 
mad, they say, he ought to be put into a madhouse. If he is 
sane, he ought to be allowed more liberty." 

Lady Perriam's ejes, so long fixed on vacancy, shifted un- 
easily, and stole a look at the steward's face. The countenance of 
the man of business indicated little of the mind behind it. The 
face of a Dutch clock could hardly have been less expressive. 

"He has as much liberty as he cares to^hi^ve," answered 
Sylvia. "It is his fancy to lead that dull, muddlin&f life, 
p6tt«riDg about among his books, amnsing himself in hfs own 
way, and troubling no one, seeing no one but the servant who 
waits on him. He lives now exactly as he has lived for the last 
t^n years." 

" Not exactly. He used to walk in the kitchen garden daily, 
fair weather or foul. He never does that now." 

"He is weaker than he used to be. The shock of his 
brother's death has shaken him." 

" Then he ought to have medical advice. If he were to die 
suddenly some day, like his brother, what would the world say P 
Might not the malicious insinuate that both deaths were indi- 
rectly your work ? " 

"Mr. Bain!" 

" Don't look at me eo indignantly. Lady Perriam. I am not 
going to slander you. I am not going to doubt your kindness 
or your justice. If ever you should need a champion, you'll 
find me very ready to dei> the world in your defence. I only 
wish to protect you from tLe consequences of your own indiscre- 
tion. But Monkhampton people have taken it into their heads 
that Mordred Perriam is kept under undue restraint — deprived 
of natural liberty — and that this seclusion and restraint are 
your work. More than this, they go so far as to hint that-you 
must have some strong reason for Keeping your brother-ii^aw 
out of sight — that he nas knowledge of some secret of yours. 
Pra^ don't be angry with me — I am only repeating vulgar 
gossip." 

How deadly white the face was now — a sicklier hue than the 
marble of the balustrade against which Lady Perriam leaned ! 

When she spoke, with evident effort, there was a dull muffled 
sound in her tones. 

" What does it matter to me how these stupid country people 
slander meP" she asked. "If I went to London, and spent 
money, and enjoyed my life, as many women would do in my 
position,'' with a faint laugh, " they would call me heartless. 
Becaxuse I live in sednsion they try to imagine some secret 



Bandom Shots. 813 

motive for my quiet life. Mr. Perriam leads the life that 
pleases him. Why should I drag his harmless eccentricities 
Defore the eyes of the world P Even if he is a little wrong in 
his head, he does no mischief, and Mrs. Carter is quite capable * 
of taking care of him." 

** Are you aware, Lady Perriam, that it is illegal to keep a 
lunatic in a private dwelling-house, or in any house not espe- 
cially licensed for the accommodation of lunatics P ^ 

"Who said he was a lunatic P " 

•* You did, just this minute.*' 

** I said he was ti little wrong in his head.* 

" Which in plain English means that he is mad. Come, now, 
Lady Perriam, I'll put this matter as simply as I can. If he 
is sane, you have no right to deprive him of liberty. If he is 
mad, you have no right to keep him in that house." 

" I do not deprive him of liberty." 

** Don't you P Would you object to my hearing him acknow- 
ledge as much with his own lips P Will you allow me to ask 
him the plain question — ^is he satisfied with his mode of life P 
Ii he answers that question in the affirmative, I will answer for 
you to all Monkhampton. No one shall dare to slander you if 
on«e I am in a position to give them the lie." 

Sylvia had wiped her pale brow with a cambric handker- 
chief, a little square of thinnest tissue. Sh% held it now in her 
clenched hands, held it twisted into a rag \)j the writhing of 
those restless hands. 

" Mordred objects to see any one ; " she said, " he has shrunk 
from every one since his brother's death. He is perfectly happy 
in his own way. Why cannot you let him alone P " 

"The world will not consent to his being let alone, Lady 
Perriam. If you refuse my advice in this matter, if you won t 
let me help you, as I can help you, other people will step in. 
One of the magistrates will come here and examine into the 
state of the case." 

" One of the magistrates P Would they dare to come here 
and question me P Cannot I do as I like in my own house P " 
Unhappily, no. The law has a knack of looking inside 
eople's houses. Come, Lady Perriam, be reasonable. I am 
ere for your own good, for your own safety. Let me see Mr. 
Perriam, and judge for myself as to his condition." 

" You shall not see him," cried Sylvia, rising suddenly and 
confronting him ; still marble-pale, but with a desperate look in 
her face which meant defiance. 

" You refuse me so slight a favour P " 

"You shall not see him. No one shall see him unless I 
choose, or until I choose. Let the magistrates come here. I 
will show them that I can be mistress in my own house." 



I 



8I4i Taken at the Flood. 

'* What reason can yon Have for denying me access to yoni 
brother-in-law P " 

** I have no reason. Bnt I will not accept dictation from any 
one, least of all from yon. Yon have long tried to be master 
in this house. I will show yon that it Ls not so easy to be my 
master as yon may have thoughts" 

She sank down npon the bench agaia, exhausted by that 
burst of passion. One little spot of crimson gleamed in the 
white cheeks, and the restless hands were still working n'jrvoasly. 

" Lady Perriam, yon are wrong when you say I hare wished 
to be your master," said the steward, bending over Ler, and 
speaking in an altered voice, a softer tone than was comTuon to 
Shadrach Bain's lips, yet with the old grave earnestness of the 
business man. " From the first Lour I saw yon I have been 
your slave. Nay, yon need fear no torrent of i)a8sionate words 
from me. I am not versed in the language of passion. I only 
know that I love yon, I will not say that I loved yon from 
that first hour when you came into my office, brighter and 
lovelier to look upon than anything I had ever seen in a 
dream: but from that hour I was your devoted servant — con- 
sidered your interests before all others— pleaded your cause with 
the husband who would have stinted your dower, watched over 
your welfare, so far as it was in my power to protect and 
benefit you." 

" Yon have always been very good to me," replied Sylvia, 
looking up at him with a quick, questioning glance, as if to 
gauge the depth of his meaning. 

" In those da^s, at least, my devotion must hav« been dis- 
interested," continued the steward. **What had I to hope 
for ? Yon had a husband — I a wife. What two people could be 
farther apart than you and I ? I served you because 1 admired 
and respected yon; and if, even at that time, some warmer 
feeling lurked in my heart, I had never confessed so much to my- 
self. But now the day has come when I dare speak plainly. You 
stand quite alone in the world. Lady Perriam — a world not too 
kind to defenceless youth and beauty. I am yonr equal in edu- 
cation ; before your marriage with Sir Aubrey, I was more than 
your equal in social status. I am too well off to be open to the. 
charge of mercenary motives. Nothing remains but the dis- 
parity of our years. I dare to hope that the strength of my 
devotion is enough to weigh against that. Sylvia, I love you. 
The one hope of my life is to be your husband." 

Lady Perriam gave no indication of astonishment, audacious 
as this address may have seemed to her. She sat motionless, 
coking downward. The agitation of a few minntei) ago had 
passed away, and left her very calm. 
^ ** Will yon jsive me some kind of answer, Lady Perriam F" 



Random Shots* 31S 

" Can yon expect me to answer Bnch a startling question verj 
quickly P Give me time to think, and I will answer you." 

" My confession has not shocked yon very much 1" 

" Why should it shock me P You are my equal, as you say 
and if you are twenty years older than I, you may naturally 
consider that a trifling objection, since I married a man who 
was thirty years my senior. Let me have time to think, Mr. 
Bain." 

" I shall not press you for a speedy answer, if you will only 
give me permission to hope." 

" I should not refuse that if I were better convinced of your 
sincerity. You say you are my friend — devoted to me — ^yet you 
come here and worry me about poor Mr. Perriam. 

" I only repeat slander which you ought to hear, in order that 
you may protect yourself against people's malice." 

" And you are really my friend r " 

" I am more than your friend — ^I am your slave.** 

*• Shall I test your fideHty P" 

" Yes, put me to any test." 

•* Help me to get rid of all difficulties about Mr. Perriam. I 
begin to think that you — or the Monkhampton gossips — are 
right. He ought to be placed under restramt. His presence 
here is a source of anxiety to me. If his state does not improve 
very soon, I shall send for a mad doctor, and get him removed 
to an asylum." 

" Whenever you make up your mind to that step, you may 
command my services." 

" Do you know of any asylum where he would be safely cared 
for, or of any doctor who would take charge of himP" 

" Why not consult Mr, Stimpson on that point." 

" I have no opinion of Mr. Stimpson's discretion. I would 
rather consult a stranger — some one unconnected with Monk- 
hampton." 

" I know a man in London who might, perhaps, serve your 
purpose," said Mr. Bain, after some moments* tnought, " and 
enable you to get rid of the difficulty quietly. But I should 
like to see Mr. Perriam, and judge for myself before I advise 
Tou further. After all, there may be nothing amiss but a little 
harmless eccentricity, which would hardly justify us in consign- 
ing him to a madhouse." 

" There is more than eccentricity. At times he is subject to 
delusions." 

" What — thinks himself the Pope, or the Chancellor of the 
Exchequer, I suppose P" 

" Not exactly ; out he has strange fancies — ^harmless enough 
—yet sufficient to prove him insane. You shall see him in a few 
days, when he is at his best, and judge for yo^nself^** 



S16 Tblken at the Flood. 

"Thanks,^ said the steward, "that looks like ooufidenMi 
And now tell me, Lady Perriam, may I hope P " 

" Yes," answered Sylvia, giving him her hand, " it woald be 
hard to deny you hope." 

She smiled, and Mr. Bain thought that the airy Bcaffoldine 
he had put together one day in his office-ywhen first he heard 
of Sir Anbrey's intended marriage — was in a fair way to be- 
come a substantial building. He had been prepared for indig- 
nant rejection. He had some vague sense of power over Sir 
Aubrey's widow, but he had thought it quite possible that she 
might defy him. His hints and veued threats were but so much 
eroping in the dark. The intensity of her agitation had taken 
him by surprise, and he had gone further than he had intended 
—ventured to reveal his ultimate hope. 

He escorted her back to the house, went with her to the 
nursery, where the infant baronet expressed the strongest ob- 
jection to Mr. Bain, and hid his face in his nurse's breast, 
turning now and then to steal an angry look at the custodian 
allotted to him by the Court of Chancery. 

" We shall be better friends by-and-by," said Mr. Bain 
quietly. 

He dined with Lady Perriam that evening, at her invitation, 
and, though there was nothing of the accepted lover in his man- 
ner, he began to think the future was secure, and that in less 
than a year he might sit at that board as master. 

He did not stop long after dinner, not wishing to make his 
presence an infliction ; but before he went away Lady Perriam 
asked him the name of the London doctor he had mentioned. 

" Mr. Ledlamb, of Jager-street, Bloomsbury," answered Mr. 
Bain. 

" Is he a celebrated manP" 

" Not at all. But I don't think you want a famous doctor 
to take care of Mr. Perriam. You want a man who will hold 
his tongue. Isn't that it P " 

" I don't want Mr. Perriam's affliction to be talked about." 

" Of course not. Joseph Ledlamb is the very man. His 
chief practice is in Bloomsbury, but he has a house on the Great 
Northern line, a few miles from Hatfield, where he receives two 
or three patients ; a retired spot, quite remote from observation. 
A highly respectable man— poor, but clever." 

" Are you sure that Mr. Perriam would be well treated in this 
gentleman's care?" 

" As sure as I could possiblj feel about his treatment, put 
him where you may. You might put him in the charge of a 
more distinguished doctor than Ledlamb. But in a larger and 
grander establishment he would be much more at the mercy of 
nurses and underlings than with such u man as Ledlamb, who 



Sandom Shei$. 317 

receiyes a limited nnmber of patients, and has tbem nnder Lis 
own eye, as it were." 

** But he mnst be away a great part of bis time, attending to 
bis Bloomsbury practice," suggested Lady Perriam. 

" I don't know bow be manages about tbat. He may have 8 
partner." 

" Is be a friend of yonrsP" 

" Hardly a friend, but an old acquaintance. He belongs to 
tbis part of the country, and he and I went to school together. 
Fifteen years ago he tried to get a practice in Monkhampton, 
but the old-established doctors were too much for him, and be 
speedily collapsed. He had not long married, poor fellow ! and 
had a hungry-looking wife, and one sickly child. He gave up 
Monkhampton as a bad job, and went up to London to try bis 
luck there. I've seen him occasionally when I've been in town 
for a few days, and we've bad a quiet evening together. I 
know the man is clever, and I think, Mr. Bain said this with 
curious deliberation, " he is just the kind of man to suit your 
purpose. Lady Perriam. A man who will not talk about his 
patient, come what may." 

" I shall not forget your recommendation," said Sylvia, with 
her easiest manner. All traces of agitation had vanished long 
ere this. " And if poor Mr. Perriam should get much worse, 
which I trust will not happen, I'll send for Mr. Ledlamb." 

This conversation occurred after Mr. Bain's horse had been 
ordered. He had no further excuse for lingering, but tookjiis 
leave with a subdued tenderness, too unobtrusive to offend, yet 
enough to remind Lady Perriam that be had asked her to be his 
wife, and that he expected an answer. 

Scarcely had the door closed behind the departing agent when 
Sylvia looked at her watch, and then rang the bell sharply. 

** Just nine. I wonder if it is too late to telegraph," she said 
to herself. 

She went to a side table where there were writing materials, 
and wrote the following telegram : — 

" Lady Perriam, " To Joseph Ledlaml), 

*' Perriam Place, '' Jagor-street, 

" Near Monkhamptoiii " Bloomsbury. 

** Please come immediately to consult upon an important case. 
Fee no consideration — loss of time dangerous." 

The bell had been answered before her message was written, 
brief as it was. A footman stood at ease, awaiting her orders 

" Let this message be taken at once to Monkhampton rail- 
way station," said Lady Perriam, giving him the paper in a 
sealed envelot*e. " Send one of the grooms on a fast horse." 

' Ves, my lady." 



818 Taken at the Flood. 



CHAPTER LIL 

THE PEIBND OP THE MENTALLY APFLICTED. 

It was not often that Mr. Ledlamb, of Jager-street, was in- 
formed that the amount of his fee was no consideration. To 
the great Dr. Crow snch telegrams as Lady Perriam's were 
common enough. At the magic name of Crow, people became 
as lavish of gold as if thej had been so many Kilmanseggs. 

But the patients whom Mr. Ledlamb attended were wont to 
consider their fees very closely — indeed so scrupulously consi- 
derate were they of this question, that sometimes they changed 
their minds about it altogether, and did not pay him anything 
at all. 

At first Mr. Ledlamb was inclined to look suspiciously at 
Lady Perriam's telegram, doubtfol whether it were not a hoax. 
But he knew enough of the neighbourhood of Monkhanipton 
to know that there really was a seat called Perriam !rlaca 
within half a dozen miles of that market town ; and this fact 
decided him. He would hazard a second-class return ticket to 
Monkhampton, in quest of the unlimited fee so liberally offered. 

** I might charge as much as ten pounds, and, deducting two 
for my ticket, that would give me eight for my day's work, 
besides future contingencies," mused Mr. Ledlamb. " But what 
on earth could induce Lady Perriam to send for meP I didn't 
do so well while I was in Monkhampton that people should 
hunt me up fifteen years after I turned my back upon that 
God-forsaken hole." 

Mr. Ledlamb had bachelor's quarters in Jager-street : a sofa 
bedstead in the parlour behind the surgery, where he bivouacked 
now and then when it was his fancy to spend the night in 
London rather than return to the rustic snades of his lodge 
near Hatfield. Thus it happened that Lady Perriam's message 
reached Mr. Ledlamb while he was lounging over an unpretend- 
ing breakfast of Epps's cocoa and a toasted bloater, prepared by 
his own hands. 

He consulted a dog's-eared Bradshaw. Yes, there was time 
to catch the 9.45 down train from Paddington. He could be at 
Monkhampton by three o'clock that afternoon. 

In the simple phraseology of the neighbourhood, Mr. Led- 
lamb " cleaned himself" — a brief operation — put on his best 
suit of professional black, took up his least shiny hat and his 
umbrella — good to look at while neatly rolled up, but not to be 
rashly opened — and set forth. He was fain to indulge in the 
loxory of a hansom cab, paid the driver his minim nm faret 



The Friend of ihe Mentally Afflicted, 819 

placidl;^ endured the threat of a summons, and reached the plat- 
form, ticket in hand, just as the train was going to move. 

** As near as a toucher!" muttered Mr. Ledlamb, breathing 
hard after the rapidity of his proceedings. 

He threw himself back into a corner of the carriage, bought 
a Daily Telegraph as the train was leaving the station, and 
abandoned himself to an hoar's quiet enjoyment between 
London and Swindon. 

" I wonder whether the advertisement's at the bottom of that 
telegram ? ** he thought presently, not able to concentrate his 
attention on the leaders in the popular journal, so puzzled was 
he by that inexplicable message. 

He turned to the advertisement sheet, where he was ac- 
customed now and then to insert his own small requirements. 
Of course, he was too wide awake a man to put forth his desire 
crudely among the "Wanteds." He insinuated himself into 
public attention as a benefactor to his species — one who from 
pure benevolence was ready to relieve others of their burthens. 

"A Friend of the Mentally Afilicted, who is also an ex- 
perienced medical practitioner, is willing to admit a patient into 
the sacred circle of a happy English home. Locality retired 
and rural. For terms, &c., apply to X.Y., Post Office, Jager- 
street, Bloomsbury." 

If the telegram was the result of this advertisement, it ought 
naturally to have been sent to the post office ; though, perhaps, 
no one would be so demented as to telegraph to a post office. 

" No," decided Mr. Ledlamb, " the advertisement can have 
nothing to do with it. Clearly Lady Perriam must have heard 
of me." 

At half-past three o'clock that afternoon Mr. Ledlamb was 
being driven up the long avenue at Perriam, in a close fly. He 
had chosen a close fly despite the sultry heat of the day, 
because it looked more professional. A cab and a fly in the 
same day. Mr. Ledlamb winced as he looked into his empty 
purse, and thought what the expedition had cost him. If the 
telegi*am should prove a hoax after all P 

The grandeur of the long avenue, the wide-spreading park, 
the j^I^^tial house struck awe to Joseph Ledlamb's soul. It 
seemed hardly possible that the inhabitants of yonder pile 
could have sent for hira, when London teemed with famous 
docti>rs. 

'*It must be some wretched mistake," he said to himself, 
" and I shall be all my exx)enses out of pocket. No, if they've 
made a blunder in sending for me, I'll make them pay my 
travelling expenses." 

He was at the door by this time, and the flyman had mng a 
load-pealing bellf and let down the stepg. 



i 



820 Taken at th^ Flood. 

** Now or never," tHougHt Mr. Ledlamb, and pnt on a bold 
front, as the ball door was opened by the most respectable of 
footmen. " Is Lady Perriam at home? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" Please to take ber my card." 

"Step this way, if you please, sir. You are expected," 
answered the footman, and Mr. Ledlamb found himself ushered 
up a wider staircase than he had ever ascended in a private 
dwelling, along a dimly lighted conidor, and then into a room 
whose brightness and perfume — the scent of stephanotus and 
lilies, Palma violets, gloire de Dijon roses, all manner of choicest 
blossoms — almost bewildered his unaccustomed senses. 

A lady was seated in a low chair by the open window, shaded 
from the sun by a half-closed Venetian shutter — a lady who 
struck him as more beautiful than any woman he had ever 
seen. 

She received him with a somewhat haughty inclination of the 
head, pointed to a distant chair, and began at once, in a business- 
like manner. 

** I have sent for you, Mr. Ledlamb, because I have been 
informed that you are a person upon whose discretion I can 
safely rely." 

" That is quite true, madam. May I ask who recommended 
me to your notice P " 

" I had rather not tell you that. Be satisfied with the know- 
ledge that you have been recommended. It is my misfortune 
to have a near relative — by marriage — who is mentally afflicted. 
I have kept him under my own roof as long as I could safely 
do so ; but I find I can keep him no longer without becoming 
subject to the remarks of the neighbourhood. It is my earnest 
wish, therefore, to remove him to some safe and comfortable 
home, where he will be well cared for, and made as happy as it 
is possible for him to be in his present condition of mind. ' 

" I am in a position to ofier you just such a home. Lady 
Perriam," answered Mr. Ledlamb, carefully suppressing all signs 
of eagerness, and adopting that dispassionate tone which be- 
speaks ample means and an independent mind. " I have a 
pleasant country house — the Arbour, at Henkers Heath, near 
Hatfield — where I am in the habit of receiving a limited num- 
ber of patients — strictly limited, for whenever their health 
allows of that privilege, they join our family circle, and we 
gather round the domestic hearth as a cheerful and united 
household. At other times, when their state is more critical, 
they of course remain in the retirement of their private apart- 
ments. My house is not large, it does not boast of splendour, 
but comfort is studied in every detail, and we are eminently 
mral. I have endeavoured to indicate that by th^ name of oni 



The Friend of the Mentally Afflicted. 3f!l 

retreat, 'The Arbour/ a sound suggestive of agreeable 
images." 

•* How many patients have you in your house at present P " 
asked Lady Femam. 

" Well, just at present, only one — a youth of excellent family, 
but weak intellect. He is like a son of the household, follows 
our children about the garden like a pet dog." 

This was true in a restricted sense. The youth in question 
having been forced to devote some part of his leisure to wheel- 
ing Mr. Ledlamb's youngest hope in a perambulator. 

"May I see Mr. — our patient, Lady PerriamP" asked the 
doctor, blandly. 

"Presently. He has been very troublesome lately, and 
although it was my earnest wish to keep him in this house, 
where ne has the care of an excellent nurse, I begin to fear that 
it might be dangerous to do so much longer." 

*• My dear madam, believe me, it is always dangerous ; how- 
ever good your nurse, however excellent your arrangements, 
there is no safety. Only under the experienced eye of a medical 
man can there be security. Lunacy is beyond measure treach- 
erous, uncertain. Mischief may arise at any moment. I dc 
not speak in my own interests ; pray believe that I am above 
all sordid considerations." 

Lady Perriam did not trouble herself to notice Mr. Ledlamb's 
vindication of his honour. She looked at him keenly with those 
darkly brilliant eyes, whose splendour carking care could not 
dim. He looked a man who would do anythmg for greed — a 
hungry-lookmg man, with wide thin lips, dog-teeth, hollow 
cheeks, large gray eyes with sandy lashes and eyebrows ; an 
unprosperous man, clad in well-worn black; a man who would 
be a ready tool, but a dangerous ally. 

" After all, it is only a question of self-interest," reflected 
Lady Perriam. " If I pay him well enough, he is not likely to 
betray me — not even if he held my fate in his hand. He 
might become rapacious and exacting ; but that would be the 
worst. I am set round with dangers, and must face that 
hazard." 

" Permit me to inquire if the patient is a young person ? " 
asked Mr. Ledlamb, shrinking a bttle under the close scrutiny 
of those observant eyes. 

" He is an elderly gentleman. But, although weak mentallj^, 
and somewhat helpless in body, his health is good, and he is 
likely to live long. 

Mr. Ledlamb looked cheered by this intelligence. 

"Pray what are your usual terms for board and medical 
attendance — inclusive terms P" asked Lady Perriam. 

" With carriage exercise P " inouired Mr. Ledlamb. 

X 



822 Taken at ike Flood. 

" Do you keep a carriage P " 

*' My wife has a pony phaeton which she devotes to the qm 
of those patients wnose friends desire that relaxation. It is of 
conrse an extra, and adds thirty ponnds a year to the charge 
for board, laundress, and medical attendance." 

" I should wish my brother-in-law to have every reasonable 
indulgence. Be good enough to state your highest indusiva 
terms." 

" My charge for a first-dass patient is two hundred and fifty 
ooundJs a vear," replied Mr. Ledlamb^ faint with the agonies of 
xltemate nope and fear. 

" If I agree to yoor becoming custodian of my brother-in* 
law, I will give you three hundred a year for his maintenance 
But, mind, 1 shall expect him to be made thoroughly comfort* 
able, and as happy as his afflicted condition wiU permit." 

" Madam, you may rely upon my fidelity." 

"I shall take nothing for granted. 1 have read horrible 
accounts of private asylums. I shall see that your patient ifl 
really treated well." 

" I am not afraid of the supervision of my patient's friends, 
madam. We are open to the piercing eye of mspection. The 
commissioners visit us periodically." 

Mr. Ledlamb spoke with supreme confidence. The friends of 
his patients had, as a rule, promised frequent visits to those 
Bufierers, and as a rule had studiously refrained from the per- 
formance of their promises. Lady Perriam did not look to nim 
like a person who would take much trouble about a deranged 
brother-in-law. 



1 • 

i 



OHAPTEB Lin. 

SECEET AS THE 6BAVE. 

** We are agreed as to terms, then P" said Lady Porriam. 

" Perfectly, my dear ma^am," replied Mr. Ledlambb 
" Nothing could be more liberal than your proposaL" 

" Then we have only to arrange matters of detail. Suppose 
that I decide upon confiding my brother-in-law to your care» 
there will be some legal formula to be srone throucrh, will there 
notP" 

** Undoubtedly. The patient must be seen by two medical 
men, and duly certificated as a lunatic." 

** So I understood. ^ Now I do not care about bringmg a 
second doctor to this house. If you decide that poor Mr. 
Perriam is insane, you could take him up to London, in the 



Secret as the Qrave^ 823 

charge of liis nurse, and tlie second doctor could see him at the 
hotel where you put up on your arrival," 

" Unquestionably, Lady Perriam, that can be done,'* 

What could not be done for a patroness who was about to 
throw three hundred a year into Joseph Ledlamb's lap P He 
had been wearing out body and brain during twenty years of 
mortal strife with fortune and had never yet <K)mpa8sed so 
large an income. 

'* Let it be so, then. If you can conscientiaQ|Giy pronounce 
that Mr. Perriam is a lunatic, you will take him to London 
with you by to-night's mail, which leaves Monkhampton at 
half-past ei^ht. It will be dusk by that time, and you will be 
able to get him away unobserved." 

" Eely upon my discretion. Lady Perriam. There shall be 
no scandal, no discomfort to the patient. All shaD be done 
quietly jwid agreeably. Above all, if the nurse is efficient." 

•* She 18 a good nurse, but timid. You will have to rule her 
with a stronger will than her own. She can remain with you 
for a week or two, till your patient grows accustomed to his 
new home. Indeed, she might remain altogether if it were 
necessary." 

" I do not apprehend that," said Mr. Ledlamb qpickly. " The 
restraining and soothing influences of the home circle, aided by 
medical supervision, wiU, I trust, do all that we can wish. I do 
not promise cure — my experience has not led me to believe that 
the majority of cases of mental derangement are amenable to 
actual cure. The brain, once affected, can rarely be restored to 
its normal condition," continued Mr. Ledlamb gravely, with a 
view to the permanence of his three hundred a year. 

•* I do not expect cure in this case," replied Lady Perriam. 
" There is here a fixed and rooted delusion which I fear must be 
beyond cure. However, you shall see your patient, and judge 
for yourself." 

Sylvia rang a bell, which was answered after an interval o! 
about five minutes by Mrs. Carter. She had to come froni 
Mordred's rooms, which weie at the opposite end of the house. 

The nurse's pale, grave face expressed poignant anxiety, as 
she looked from Lady Perriam to the stranger, but her counte- 
nance gave no indication of surprise. She had evidently been 
prepared for this interview. 

"How is your patient this afternoon, nurse P" asked Lady 
Perriam. x 

" Pretty much as usual, my lady.'* 

" Still full of fancies, I suppose. This gentleman haa come to 
see him. You can take him to Mr. Perriam's room." 

"Will you come with us, madam P" asked Mr. Ledlamb. 

'' !No, I would rather you should form an unbiassed ju%' 



k 



824i Taken at the Flood. 

ment," replied Sylvia. •* My presence might agitate my poof 
brother-in-law. He is accastomed to Mrs. Carter, and with her 
you will see him at his best." 

Mr. Ledlamb bowed, and followed the nurse from the room, 
along the corridor, to the other end of the house, and into the 
large shabbily furnished sitting-room, lined from floor to ceiling 
witii dingily Dound books, where the last of the two brothers 
speni his joyless existence. The solitary occupant of the room 
looked a very old man as he sat by the fireless hearth, hcJf 
buried in a large arm-chair, his shrunken limbs wrapped in a 
dressing gown of faded Indian cashmere, his head bent upon 
his breast, his idle hands hanging loosely at his sides — an image 
of imbecility — or despair. 

Lady Perriam paced her room restlessly during the doctor's 
absence, now pausing for a moment to look at the clock on the 
mantelpiece, now stopping by an open window to gaze out into 
distance, with eyes that saw not the landscape's summer beauty. 
It was to the avenue she looked with that quick, anxious gaze, 
dreading to see Mr. Bain's neat dog-cart advancing between the 
double range of trees. He had been at the Place only yester- 
day, and there was no reason why he should come to-day; 
except the one fact that his coming to-day would be fatal. 

Mr. Ledlamb's absence seemed a great deal longer than it 
need have been. Sylvia looked at the door every now and then, 
eagerly expecting his return. 

*' This is the crisis of my fate,** she thought. " If all goes 
well now, my future is safe." 

Mr. Ledlamb returned, and approached her with a grave and 
sympathetic countenance. 

" Alas 1 dear lady, your fears were but too well founded," he 
began. " There is incurable derangement. Your unhappy 
brother-in-law is not in a condition to be left without medic'al 
restraint. There is a rooted delusion — a mistaken lense of 
identity, which is somewhat curious in its nature, and to the 
gcientific mind eminently interesting " 

•* Do not go into details," interposed Lady Perriam, "the sub- 
ject is too painful. Do you pronounce my poor brother-in-law 
actually out of his mind P " 

** I do. Without a moment's hesitation." 

"And do you think any other doctor would arrive at the 
same conclusion ? " 

" I have no doubt of it." 

** In that case, the sooner he is removed from this house the 

better. I told Mrs. Carter to have everything prepared for an 

immediate journey, should you decide as you have decided. My 

'arriage can take you, your patient, and his nurse to the railway 

station. And now, Mr. Ledlamb, there only remains one ques^ 



Secret oi the Chrave, 325 

tion to be settled between ns. Can I rely upon yonr discretion 
— ^upon your keeping the secret of Mr. Perriam's melaaiclioly 
state, the nature of his delusion, from every living creatunr 
except those who have to attend upon him P " 

" Yes, Lady Perriam, yon may trust me implicitly." 

" Eemember, if I hear that you have broken faith with me 
in the smallest particular, I shall immediately remove your 
patient." 

" I do not fear such a contingency," answered Mr. Ledlamb 
firmly. Was he likely te hazard three hundred a year, compe- 
tence, nay wealth, by any ill-advised prating P 

" I'd cut Mrs. Ledlamb's ton^e out sooner than run the risk 
of losing such a patient," he said to himself. 

"And you wul leave for London without seeing any one 
whom you may know in Monkhampten; you will avoid aU 
future communication with any one in this neighbourhood," 
urged Lady Perriam. 

** Certainly, madam. I have not been in the habit of corres- 
ponding with Monkhampten people. The place was by no 
means a lucky place to me, and though I am a native of this 
county, I have no affection for it. I have sometimes met with 
Mr. Bain, the lawyer, in London, and spent a friendly evening 
with him ; but he is the only Monkhampten man with whom I 
have kept up any acquaintance." 

" It will be best te avoid Mr. Bain in future. He is my land- 
steward, and it was he who recommended you te me. I shall 
tell him that Mr. Perriam is in your care ; but I distinctly 
forbid you ever te let him see your patient, should he come to 
your house for that purpose. He was raised te a position of 
undue power by my late husband, and he is too fond of inter- 
fering with my affairs. Should you see him at any time, you 
will be as uncommunicative as possible." 

" Madam, I will be dumb. And I shall do my best to avoid 
Bhadrach Bain." 

Lady Perriam rang the bell, and ordered dinner te be served 
£br Mr. Ledlamb as soon as possible. She was anxious for the 
hour of his departure. But it was not yet five o'clock, and she 
oould hardly get him and his patient away before seven^ Tht» 
brain left at half-past eight, and reached London at one in th% 
morning. 

The carriage was ordered to be^ ready at seven to take Mr 
**errian end liis nurse to the station. ** He is going away for 
diang(> ij air and scene," Lady Perriam told the butler, tc 
whom she gave this order, — ^'^ going in the care of a medical 
attendant." 

"Poor dear gentleman, he do seem to want it," said th« 
bntleri who had seen very Mtle of Mordred since the baronet's 



I 



826 Hhkm at the Floats. 

fieatli, bnt had gathered a melancholy idea of his condition from 
the talk of the women servants, who had their intelligence from 
Mrs. Garter. 

At seven, Mr. Perriam was bronght downstairs, a cnriona 
Bgnre in his ill-fitting, old-fashioned clothes, a world too wide 
for that shrunken form, an eccentric-looking figure crowned with 
a broad-brimmed, white beaver hat, which almost extinguished 
him. He was supported on each side by the doctor and the 
nurse, and seemed to have barely sufficient strength to drag 
himself downstairs, and across the hall, and into Sue carriage, 
with that double support. Sylvia watched his departure from 
an open galleir, watched him with heavily throbbing heart. The 
carriage rolled away upon the smooth gravel, the heavy haU 
doors closed with a bang. He was gone. 

" Will all go right at the station ? " Sylvia wondered. ** If 
they were only in London, I should feel secure." 

She had told Mrs. Carter to tele^aph to her as early as pos- 
sible on the following morning. Till sne received that telegram 
she could know nothmg more. 

There was little rest for her that night. She could not keep 
her thoughts from following those travellers, or prevent her 
fancy conjuring up possible difficulties which might arise to 
thwart her plans. It was an unspeakable relief to know that 
Mordred*s rooms were empty; yet, till all was ovei, and Mr. 
Ledlamb's patient was safely settled under his roof, there to be 
for ever hidden from the outer world, Sylvia could know no 
perfect rest. Her slumbers that night were of the briefest, and 
ner dreams made hideous by horrible images. Death and mad- 
ness figured alternately in those confused visions. 

The telegram arrived while Ladv Perriam was seated before 
an untasted breakfast. It brought relief and satisfaction to 
her mind. 

" Mrs. Carter, To Lady Perriam, 

Paddingtoiu Perriam Place, 

near Monkhampt jay^ 

"Arrived in London safely. Put up at Jones's private hotei 
Paddington. Met with no difficulty during journey." 

This was all, but it was sufficient to lighten Lady Perriam't, 
anxieties. The next telegram would be from Mr. Ledl amb, to 
tell her of the result of his patient's interview with the second 
doctor, whose opinion was to settle the fact cf Mr. I'erriam*s 
lunacy. 

Sylvia's next anxiety was the expected le^r from Edmund 
Standon. If he wrote on the first stage of his journey, the 
letter ought to reach her by that afternoon's post. In the 
ttuanwhile she was in the diark as to his intentions. Did ha 



Secret a% the Grave. 827 

intend to forsake her, after swearing that it was she alone 
whom he loved P Could he be so mad as to fly firom love, 
fortune, happiness? Or was his departure only designed to 
soften the mow to Esther Bochdale, to make the breaking off 
their engagement easier for both P 

This was the view which Sylvia took of his conduct, and she 
waited with intense impatience for the letter which was to 
justify her hopes. 

The telegram from Mr. Ledlamb came at three o'clock in the 
afternoon. 

"Joseph Ledlamb, To Lady Ferriam, 

London* Pertiam Place, 

near Monkhampton. 

" Dr. Dervish, of Bluhenden-scraare, has seen the patient, 
and confirms my opinion as to mental derangement. Certifi- 
cates and aU preliminaries arranged. The patient accompanies 
me to the Arbour this afternoon, with Mrs Carter." 

That was all. How easily the business had been done. 

There was an hour still to wait for the afternoon post, which 
came to Ferriam at four ; a weary hour in which to suffer the 
heart-sickness of hope deferred. Sylvia dreaded a visit from 
Mr. Bain ere that afternoon was over. Was he likely to give 
her a long respite? Would he not be impatient to have his 
audacious question answered P 

She thought of his wooing with mingled bitterness and con- 
temnt, but not without a thrill of fear. His manner had im- 
plied some hidden power — a hold upon her which she trembled 
to think of. Never coxdd she forget the agony of that hour on 
the sunlit terrace. 

" Would he dare to make me such an offer if he did not be- 
lieve he has some power over me P ** she asked herself medita- 
tively. "Yet what could his knowledge amount toP What 
can he know — or even suspect P And now, if Mr. Ledlamb is 
but faithful to me, all is safe. The ^ave could hardly be % 
better hiding-place for what I want to hide.'' 



CHAPTEB LIY. 

THB HASTEB PASSION. 

The afternoon wore away, and to Sylvia's supreme relief Mr. 
Bain did not appeal to claim her answer to his proposal. The 
four o'clock post brought her Edmund's promised letter, posted 
from Antwerp. It was a^ long letter, and when Sylvia first 
looked at it, tne doselj written lines swam before her eyes. 



828 Taken at tha Flood. 

^'Hotd Peter Paul, Antweipi. 

••Dear Lady Perriam, — When I consented to that fatal 
meeting of the other night, I did so, strong in the belief that I 
had steeled myself against a fascination which once had snch 
complete power over me. I came to meet yon, prepared to be 
your friend, or your counsellor, should you need friendship or 
counsel, but resolved never again to be your lover. On that 

Soint I believed myself firm as a rock, x on have done me the 
eepest wrong tiiat it is possible for a woman to inflict upon 
the man who loves her. You had blighted the fairest years of 
my life. I might forgive you for all I had suffered— blot out 
the remembrance of those years, but I must be weak indeed, 
despicable indeed, if I offered my love again, to be again fooled 
to the top of my bent, and again abandoned. 

** This is what I thought and believed when I rashly braved 
the spell of your presence. You know how miserably weak I 

f roved in the hour of temptation. I did not know myself when 
came to that meeting in Perriam churchyard. I know my- 
self only too well now, and know that I am your slave for ever. 

** And now, Sylvia, what is to be my fate P I place my lot 
in your hands. I am a dishonoured man, who has broken faith 
"with one of the best and purest of women — a woman whom to 
know is to honour ; for whom love goes hand in hand with 
reverence. I have fled from the scene of my wrong-doing; not 
daring to meet those gentle eyes whose truthful gaze would look 
into my veiy soul; still less able to endure the pardon which I 
know would be mine, though my folly and falsehood may go 
near to break that faithful heart. I have fled, leaving Esther 
Bochdale to despise me as the meanest of men. 

"Pronounce, Sylvia. It is for you to speak my sentenotr. 
Am I to be your husbai\4> happy in the possession of one whose 
very presence has a magic which steals my senses, and brings 
sweet forgetfiilness of all things in life save herself? Am I to 
be your husband, despised most likely by the world as the man 
who was not too proud to marry the girl who jilted him, and 
even to profit by the perfidy wKch made her a rich woman — 
despised as a fortune-hunter, but happy in your love P What 
is my fature to give me, Sylvia P It is for you to decide. Re- 
member, if you marry me, you marry a pauper, or a man who 
at the best can earn four or five hundred a year, by the drud- 
gery of a bank managership. With your beauty, youth, and 
wealth you might do much better than this. You might mount 
a step higher on the ladder of fortune, marry a man whose posi- 
tion shonld be twice as great as Sir Aubrey Perriam's. Con- 
aider all this, Sylvia. In common humanity, do not again de- 
^ ' e me. If you love me well eiMugh to sacrifice ambitioiit 



non 
k nde 



OUhe Master Passion. 829 

and to endure slander — for be very snre a marriage wonld ex- 
pose yon to the malevolence of the world— I am at your feet, 
and ask no other joy than to be your husband. But be very 
sure of yourself before you answer this letter. And if the word 
yes be siid, let it be a yes that will stand, though all the world 
^*^re against us. 

•* Yours till death, 

"Edmund Standen." 

Sylvia covered the letter with passionate kisses — ^kisse* 
mingled with tears. 

" If I love him well enough !" she repeated, " if I love him ! 
God help me ! Could he know what I have gone through to 
win him once again he would not talk of ifs. My Edmund my 
beloved, mine at last I What does all I have ever suffered count 
against the joy of this moment P My Edmund ! He is poor, 
and I am rich. I can give him happiness, wealth, position. 
Who shall dare to despise him or me r Now at last I shall know 
the meaning of happiness. 1 shall know the value of wealth." 

She read and re-read the letter. For the nonce the letter was 
Edmund. She kissed the senseless paper — cried over it till it 
was limp with her tears. 

It was not all sweetness. One passage stung her to the quick 
— that sentence in which Edmund paid tribute to Esther Eoch- 
dale's noble nature. That was bitter. 

" He thinks her so much better than I — there is not a word 
in all the letter that speaks of respect for me — confidence in 
me," she reflected, brooding over thRt praise of Esther. " But 
then he loves me best ; he has tried to love her, and failed. He 
loves me in spite of himself. That is the love best worth 
having — the true master passion." 

Lac^ Perriam rang for ner maid. 

"Pack a couple of portmanteaux with everything necessary 
for a month's absence," she said, " and get yourself ready to 
leave by the half-past eight o'clock train this evening. I am 
going away for change of air." 

The woman looked astonished at the sudden announcement, 
but Lady Perriam was not a communicative mistress, and gave 
all orders with a cold imperiousness which left no room for 
question. 

" Stop, Online," she said as the^ woman was retiring. 

She meditated silently for a minute or two, looking downward 
with a troubled brow. 

" Send Tringfold to me,** she said. 

She had reflected that it would be wise to take her child with 
her — even though nurse and infant would be incumbrance 
whwe she was going. Mr. Bain, outraged, cheated, migh 



830 J\iken at the Flood. 

attempt some act of revenge, aad to leave the ohild in hto powet 
would be like leaving it in the lion's den. The child was hei 
stfong rock — through him she enjoyed honse, income, poBi* 
tion. She had bat Sie vaguest idea of the power the Court of 
Chancery possessed to rule her life ; but she thought it just pos- 
sible that Mr. Bain, possessed of the child, and aided by the 
Court of Chancery, might be able to oust her from Perriam 
Place, separate her from her infant son, and rob her of the liberal 
allowance the Court had awarded for his maintenance. 

She was going straight to Antwerp, and she hoped to return 
to Perriam as Edmund Standen's wile. 

Sir Aubrey had been dead little more than six months. Sylvia 
knew that to marry so soon would be to have the world's con- 
tempt, but she was prepared to endure that. She was wiling 
to be slandered, ridiculed even, rather than to give Edmund time 
to change his mind, and return to Esther Rochdale. 

Mrs. Tringfold came presently, and she, not so well trained as 
Lady Perriam's own maid, did not fail to express unbounded 
surprise at such a sudden departure. How was she to get Sir 
St. John's frocks ready at a moment's notice P There were a 
dozen in the laundry not so much as ironed, rolled up in the 
starch, and it would be two days' work to iron them. 

** He can go without frocks, if necessary," answered Sylvia, 
decisively. She had no idea of being baulked by a dependant. 
" We can buy more frocks and everything else to-morrow in 
London. The doctor who was here yesterday told me that 
change of air and scene was necessary for my health, and the 
sooner I went away the better." 

" If you'd only told me yesterday evening, my lady." 

" I was too much agitated by poor Mr. Perriam's departure to 
think of myself. I have only now made up my mind, and I do 
not wish to lose any time in getting away. I ^1 that I want a 
change of air." 

** You have been looking out of sorts, and low-like, for a long 
time, my lady. But that's only natural after your sad loss." 

" Of course. Come, Mrs. Tringfold, don't wast^ any time 
talking. If you can't get ready to go with baby, C^Hne must 
take him. I am determined not to lose the nine o'clock train." 

** Let him go without me ! That dear blessed child I I woxddn't 
leave him for the world. It'll be a dreadful drive ; but FU get 
ready somehow, if I work myself into a fever." 

" There need be no fever," answered Lady Perriam calmly, 
though inward fever burned in her breast. ** You can have 
plenty of help. There is a house full of servants doing nothing." 

"Ijhe boxes shall be packed, my lady, and I'll take Ihe frocks in 

the starch, and iron them myself when we get to our destination." 

> *< Ba ready at half-pa^t seven o'clock. I shall not wait for you." 



The Master JPassion. 831 

Sylvia had sometbiiig to do herself before her departure. She 
had to write a letter to Mr. Bain — a letter which should, if 
possible, sofben the edge of his disappointment, and conciliate the 
maa who had so much power, either as her ally or her adversary. 

The composition of that letter was almost the hardest work 
Sylvia had ever had to do. After three or fonr attempts, resnlt- 
ing in failure, she wrote the following :— 

*' Dear Mr. Bain, 

** I have given serious and careful consideration to thr 
proposal you did me the honour to make me the day before yes- 
terday, and much thought has resulted in the conviction that 1 
can only reply to that flattering proposition in the negative. 

"I respect your force of ^character, admire your capacity foi 
business, and that mental power which I do not doubt would 
have made you great or distinguished in almost any walk of 
life : but I cannot give you the affection you ask for, and I will 
show my confidence in your generosity, and my belief in your 
honour, by telling you why I cannot do so. 

" You are, doubtless, aware that before I married Sir Aubrey 
I was engaged to Mr. Standen. That engagement was broken 
at my father's bidding, at the hazard of breaking my heart, 
because he was too proud to permit my marriage with a man 
whose mother was so strongly averse from such an union. I 
yielded to my father's wishes, and married Sir Aubrey, whose 
goodness had inspired me with deepest gratitude, whom I 
esteemed and revered, but to whom I could not give the love 
which had already been given to Edmund Standen. Sir Aubrey 
was too generous to claim such a love from me. He was con- 
tent to receive my reverence and obedience. That old love was 
buried, but not dead. No thought of Edmund Standen ever 
came between me and my duty to my husband. But now that 
I am once more free memory is reawakened, and I know that 
my first lover is still master of my heart. With this knowledge 
I should do you the deepest wrong were I to offer encouragement 
to your hopes. Be assured of my confidence, my regard ; remain 
my friend, my counsellor ; retain all the power you have ever 
enjoyed at Perriam, be the adviser of my son's youth, the pro- 
tector and manager of his wealth, and be assured through all, 
ftnd under all circumstances, of my unchanging gratitude an# 
nndeviating regard. 

•* Ever faithfully yours, 

*• Sylvia. Pebkum. 

" P.S. — ^I find it necessary — ^rather suddenly — ^to take decisivi 
measures with regard to Mr. Perriam. I have taken your 
advice and placed him in your friend's care," 



332 Ihken at the Flood. 

Sylvia read tliis letter carefully before sealing it. It seemed 
to her a triumph of ingenuity. If anything could appease Mr. 
Bain's wrath, soften the pangs of disappointed ambition, surely 
this letter would do it. She left it to be delivered after her 
departure. She trembled at the thought that even yet Shadrach 
Bain might make his appearance before she had started. She 
had her own preparations still to make — money, papers, and 
jewels to collect and pack safely for the journey. She had not 
said a word about leaving Perriam Place in the letter to Mr. 
Bain. It would be time enough for him to make the discovery 
when he came there and found her ^one. 

Half-past seven o'clock came at last, an hour as impatiently 
longed tor as it had been last night. Lady Perriam, nurse, and 
infant entered the chariot; a cart was loaded with portmanteaux 
and travelling bags. Celine took her place beside the driver of 
this inferior vehicle, the swift wheels rolled along the avenuOi 
and Sylvia had started on the iirst stage of her journey to 
Antwerp. 

The party stopped that night at a monster hotel in Padding- 
ton, where Lady Perriam courted sleep in one of the most 
expensive bedrooms of the house, a desert waste of polished 
walnut wood and dark green damask. To-morrow night she 
would be tossing on the sea, or steaming swiftly up the Scheldt, 
in the Ba/ron Osy, or some sister boat. 

The Antwerp steamer left St. Katherine's wharf at noon next 
day. Lady Perriam, to whom slumber had come but by briefest 
snatches, was astir early. She breakfasted with her boy and the 
nurse, and was unusually gracious to Mrs. Tringfold, whom she 
thought it might be well to conciliate. 

** 1 haven't so much as heard you say where we are going to, 
my lady," said Mrs. Tringfold, emboldened by this condescen- 
sion ; " and it's rather wearing to the mind to feel oneself travel- 
ling, and not know what one's coming to." 

"Didn't I tell you, Tringfold?" exclaimed Sylvia, with an 
innocent wondering look ; " how odd that I should forget it I 
We are going to Antwerp, on the first stage of our journey 
up the Rhine." 

Mrs. Tringfold looked insufficiently enlightened. " Antwerp,** 
she repeated, " might that be anywheres in the Highlands, my 
lady P I know Scotch travelling is all the rage with the aris- 
tocracy." 

Lady Perriam explained that Antwerp was not in North 

Britain. Mrs. Tringfold was grateful for the explanation, but 

expressed some horror at the idea of going among nasty, 

dirty Frenchmen, being under the common impression that all 

j^ftnreigners are Frenchmen. 

^k LiKly Perriam made good use of the interval between break- 



Tke Master Passion. J33 

ftist and half-past ten o'clock, at which honr the fly was ordered 
to convey the travellers to St. Katherine's wharf. She drove to 
Jager- street, Bloomsbnry, where she was fortunate enough to 
find Mr. L^dlamb jnst arriving from his country retreat, whence 
an early train had brought him to his surgery. 

That s^entleman looked not a little surprised at the appeari 
ance of his patroness. 

"Are you about to honour us with a visit to the Arbour, 
Lady Perriam P" he asked rather anxiously. 

" Not just yet, Mr. Ledlamb. I am on my way to the conti- 
nent; for a little change and rest. On my return I shall come 
bo see your patient, and hope to find that he does honour to 
your care. I thouf^ht while in London I might as well call here 
and ascertain from your own lips that all is well." 

"Nothing could be better," answered Mr. Ledlamb glibly. 
" Our poor patient has been somewhat sullen and querulous; 
but on the whole we have got on charmingly. Mrs. Carter, the 
nurse, has been of some service in soothing him. He has a 
curious fancy about her, and sometimes " 

" My dear Mr. Ledlamb, I have begged you not to torture me 
with details. So you found Mrs. Carter useful. It has occurred 
to me that, as the patient likes her, it might be as well to retain 
her services for some time to come." 

Mr. Ledlamb's countenance fell somewhat at this suggestion. 

** I should, of course, make an allowance for her maintenance 
— say fifty pounds a year." 

Mr. Ledlamb brightened visibly, then looked thoughtful— 
finally brightened again. 

" It might be so arranged. Lady Perriam, if you desire it. It 
is somewhat against my rule to receive any patient's former 
attendant. I prefer attendants of iny own choosing. But in 
this case I will strain a point. Mrs. Carter shall stay with us — 
she shall share the repose of our secluded home." 

" I have been thinking that you might be glad of a payment 
on account, Mr. Ledlamb." 

" That is very considerate of you. Lady Perriam. I admit 
that some small advance would not be unwelcome." 

Sylvia cave him a hundred pounds in notes, which she had 
prepared for that purpose, and took his receipt for the amount 
m a thoroughly business-like manner. 

Two hours afterwards she was standing on the deck of the 
Antwerp steamer, watching the low shores of Essex glide slowly 
by, and dreaming of a happy future. 

Not a thought of the lunatic in his strange abode — home in 
name, in reahty a prison — no regret for the mother whom she 
had condemned to share his dismal doom, stole, like a dark and 
menacing shadow, across Sylvia Perriam's sunlit day-dreams. 



384 Taim ai the Mood. 

She ma a woman who lived for herself— whose ten* liope^ 
desires ever tended towards one perpetual centre. 
She was hastening to meet her lover, and she was happy. 



OHAPTER LV. 

MB. BAIN IS WOBSTEK 

Mb. Bain mounted his horse Pepper — a sleek, deep-chefltei 
animal, which he kept for the saddle — and rode foi*th gulj — or 
as gaily as so jonng a widower might ride with the eye of his 
townfolk upon him — jnst about an hour after Lady Ferziam 
had been borne away from St. Katherine*s wharf on the Antwerp 
steamer. 

It was a bright August noontide, with just a pleasant westerly 
breeze to fan uie leaves of the young trees that had been planted 
in the front gardens of those smart-looking villas which had lately 
cropped up, like a fringe of brick and mortar, alonff the road 
just outside Monkhampton — agreeable indications oi the pros- 
perity of " our ever-increasing town," as the Monkhamptonians 
called it in the local paper. Mr. Bain, secure in his square, red 
brick dwelling-place, whose freehold his father and grandfather 
had held before him, looked with an eye of contempt on these 
toyshop villas — ^little more substantial than those pasteboard 
Swiss cottages and rustic savings-banks in which juvenUe 
hoards are wont to be garnered. The people who c cupied 
these newly built habitations were people who had newly begun 
housekeeping — ^people of the mushroom race — young couples 
with small children and very young maid-servants — ^nothing 
solid or old-established about them. 

Gaily rode Mr. Bain past the mushroom villas, more gaily as 
the road ^ew more rural, and there were only birds and butter- 
flies, or the ruddy kine in the fat meadows, or lazy old horses 
looking over field gates, to mark the brightness of his eye, ot 
the h Jf-suppressed smile upon his firm lip. 

He was going to ask Lady Ferriam for her answer — and he 
told himself that answer would be favourable. He had con> 
sidered the matter from every standpoint, gone into it deeply, 
and he did not believe she would dare to refuse his offer of 
marriage, unexpected, or even repugnant, as that offer might 
have been. 

Granted that her heart was given to her first lover, Edmund 
Standen. She would conquer that fancy as she had conquered 
it before, when she married Sir Aubrey Ferriam. Granted that 
her heart oould never belong to Mr. Bain, any more than it 



Mr. Bain U ^Worttei. 888 

bad belonged to Sir Anbrej; Sbadracli Bain oonld do without 
her heart. 

** I have nerer had a particular fencj for hearts," the steward 
3aid to himself, " but I want those outlying lands — ^the lands 
my father and I have put together — land bought judiciously, 
and improved so carefully that it yields a good four per cent. 
I want to be master where I have been servant. I want to 
h^nd over my office to my son and my head clerk, and wash my 
hands of Monkhampton and drudgery. I want to sit down 
opon my own acres, and have a pretty wife to head my table, 
and ride to hounds three times a week, and be called squire 
instead of lawyer." 

These desires were the sum of Mr. Bain's ambition, and he 
fancied that he was on the threshold of success. It was his 
conviction that Lady Ferriam dared not refase him anything. 

" First and foremost, and there lies the main spring of my 
machine, there is a secret— a secret connected witii Sir Aubrey's 
death. What it is I ha|^dly care to know. Perhaps better not 
to know it. My power is the same, so long as she beueves I know 
it. Secondly, poor old half-witted Mordred Ferriam has some 
inkling of her secret, and that's why she has kept him so close, 
and has taken such care to keep me from seeing him, and would 
have very little objection to shut him up in a lunatic asylum if 
she could do it sa&ly. Thirdly, that Mrs. Carter, who I believe 
is a poor relation of Lady Ferriam's, is in some manner con- 
cerned in this secret. Between the old man and his nurse I 
might unravel the mystery, I dare say, if I set about it. But 
there's no occasion for tnat. Lady Ferriam's face told me 
enough the other day. Whatever her secret is, she gives me 
credit for knowing it, and fears me with all her heart and soul ; 
fears me so much that she will marry me, and be ruled by me 
for the rest of her life. If not out of love, out of fear." 

Thus mused Shadrach Bain as he rode to Ferriam Flace. 
The woman at the lodge swung open the gate and dropped her 
lowest courtesy as he entered the avenue. All the servants at 
the Flace felt that Mr. Bain was more or less their master. He 
had taken upon himself the duties of house steward since Sir 
Aubrey's illness, and had contrived to retain those duties even 
after Sir Aubrey's death. He paid the servants their wages, 
and they believed that they would have to depart at Ids dis* 
missal. 

Occupied as he was with his own schemes, Mr. Bain marked 
the lodge-keeper's profound reverence, and felt the sweetness of 
power. 

** A nice sinecure that woman has," he said to himself; " no- 
thing to do but mind her own children, and open and shut 
that gate half a dozen times a day. That's one of the evils oi 



886 Taken at the Flood. 

a large estate. There are always more cats tban can ctitoh 



mice." 



Ferriam Place looked its grandest in the broad midday snn- 
sliine, the parterres in the Italian garden ablaze with scarlet 
geranium, the statues and marble balustrade of the terraces 
steeped in sunlight. 

" A fine old house/' thought Mr. Bain. " Nothing of the 
mushroom about that. It would be something to inhabit such 
a place, even if one were but a tenant on sufferance." 

The hall doors stood wide open, but the sleek footman who 
was wont to lounge in the vestibule was not visible to-day. 
Mr. Bain had to ring the bell for some one to come and look 
after his horse, whereupon, after a pause of some three minutes, 
during which Mr. Bain rang a second time, the well-fed servitor 
made his appearance, with something of a guilty look. 

"Have you all grown deafP" asked Mr. Bain with stern 
reproof. " Take my horse, and tell Morris to make him com- 
fortable. I shan't want him for an hour or so. You needn't 
announce me; I know my way to Lady Perriam's moming- 



TX)om." 



Mr. Bain puslied past the dumbfounded servitor, and mounted 
the stairs. He had not ^iven the man time to answer, nor could 
the man follow Mr. Bam to give him any information, for he 
had the horse's bndle in his nand, and knew not what manner 
of brute that quadruped might be, or whether it mieht not be 
in his nature to career off and rampage across tne Italian 
parterre, and knock down a statue or two, if haply let free. 

So Mr. Bain mounted the stairs, with the lover's impatient 
footsteps, and went straight to Lady Perriam's morning-room^ 
which he found empty. 

There was utter silence in the corridor, no murmur of the 
youthful St. John's voice, which was wont to be audible, either 
m plaint or rejoicing. Mr. Bain went on to the day nursery, a 
large, airy room, not far from Lady Perriam's apartments. The 
nursery was also empty, and had moreover an orderly look: 
everything in its place, swept and garnished, the look of a 
deserted nursery. 

Mr. Bain stared round him aghast, and then rang the bell 
vehemently. 

It was answered by the chief housemaid, a vinegar-faced 
person who had been accustomed to wait on Lady Perriam 
before Sir Aubrey's deatJi, a person who had been superseded 
after that event by Online, the French maid. 

" Goodness gracious, sir, how you did startle me ! " exclaimed 
the housemaid, ** ringing that precious bell. The house seemed 
as if it was haunted, Mrs. Tringfold being gone, and this rociu 
empty, to the best of my belief." 



Mr, Bain is Worsted. 837 

*• Mrs. Tringfold gone ! Wliat do yon mean, woman P ** 

** I beg your pardon, Mr. Bain, my name is Mary Dyke, and 
I should thank you to call me by it. You may be ever so 
surprised, and I grant it's natural you should feel surprised, 
but I don't like such an epitaph as that flung at me." 

The " epitaph " was the generic term " woman " which Mr 
Bain had hurled at the damsel somewhat roughly. 

" Dd you mean that Mrs. Tringfold has gone away — l^it Per- 
riam Place P " he asked, without noticing the reproof. 

" Yes, sir, left yesterday evening by the London tram.'* 

"Then who is nursing Sir St. JohnP** 

" Sir St. John left too, sir, yesterday evening by the London 
train.** 

"What did they go away forP Where are they going P 
Who sent themP*' gasped tfie steward, breathless with angry 
agitation. 

" Nobody knows that but Lady Perriam. She arranged it 
all, and she went with them.** 

"Lady Perriam has gone to London, has sheP*' said Mr. 
Bain, slowly recovering self-control and composure. ** She hat 
gone away for a little change of air, I suppose, a^ I recom- 
mended her to do, ever so long ago. She has gone rather 
suddenly at last, but that's jnst a lady*s way of acting. There's 
nothing so difficult as to get a woman to make up her mind ; 
but when she does make np her mind, she always does it in a 
hurry. Did Lady Perriam tell any one — the housekeeper, for 
instance — where she was going, and how long she meant to be 
awayP*' 

" Lady Perriam didn't tell anybody anything, sir. She was 
always a lady to keep things close, and she has been closer than 
usual lately. Mrs. Tringfold and that blessed child was 
whisked off at an hour's notice — ^things packed anyhow. One 
would have thcRight Lady Perriam was running away from 
some danger.** 

"An impetuous way of doing things, certainly," said Mr. 
Bain, now completely master of nis emotions; " but I daresay, 
after such a hurried departure. Lady Perriam will not be long 
absent. And now I'll go and speak to Mrs. Carter. I have b 
little bit of business to arrange with her.** 

" You wanted to speak to Mrs. Carter, sir P Didn't you know 
that she has left the Place P" 

"Mrs. Carter! What, has she left too?** 

" Yes, sir. She went away with Mr. Perriam and a strange 
gientleman, the day before yesterday.** 

Mr. Bain questioned the housemaid closely, and heard the 
story of Mordred's removal, so far as Mary Dyke could tell it. 
He heard how a strange gentleman, who looked like a clergy 



888 Tdcen at the Mood. 

man or a doctor, had come to the Place in the afternoon of Uie 
day before yesterday ; how the stranger and Lady Perriam had 
been closeted together for an hour or more ; and how the ordei 
had then been given for the carriage to be ready at half-past 
seven o'clock ; and how at that time Mr. Perriam had been led 
down to the hall between the stranger and Mrs. Carter, and 
those three had gone off together in the carnage, which took 
them to the Monkhampton station, and there deposited them. 

" By heaven I she has made a clean sweep of it," thonglil 
Mr. Bain, when he had listened, with seeming carelessness, to 
this story, set forth at considerable length, and with mncli 
circnmlocntion, by the honsemaid ; " bnt she is not so dever a 
woman as I think her if she counts upon escaping me so easily. 
She can't leave Perriam Place, or my dominion, very long, with- 
out leaving five thousand a year behind her — the dowry she 
periured herself to win — and she'll hardly do that, I fancy." 

As yet Mr. Bain had heard nothing of Edmund Standen's 
departure. He therefore lacked the keynote to Lady Perriam's 
flight. 

" I think there's a letter for yon, sir," said Mary Dyke, whose 
mind had been considerably relieved by the letting off of sundry 
spiteful insinuations against the mistress who nad discard^ 
her services. " I seem to remember seeing one on the chimney- 
piece in Lady Perriam's morning-room, when I dusted it this 
morning." 

"Seem to remember I" exclaimed the agent. "You might 
have remembered it a little sooner, I should think, if you had 
your wits a'>x)ut you." 

He went in quest of the letter himself. Yes, there lay the 
envelope in Sylvia's clear, bold handwriting, sealed with the 
Perriam arms. 

Shadrach Bain tore open the envelope with fingers which, 
for this once in his well-ordered life, trembled a little. He 
devoured those carefully studied lines, glanced at the postscript 
with eyes which gleamed with anger, and then from between 
his clenched teeth there hissed forth an epithet more objeo 
tionable than that against which Mary, the housemaid, had 
protested. 

^ " Does she think she can be so easily rid of me P " he said, in 
his deep inward whisper, " knowing what I know, or suspecting 
what I suspect, which comes to the same thing. Does she 
oount npon flinging me off as lightly as if we stood on equal 
terms P She avows her love for Stanoen — blazons it even ! she 
fould hardly do that if he and she had not come to an under- 
standing — had not made their plans for the future. She dares 
to epeak of Sir Aubrey, too — her esteem, her reverence, her 
giatitudeP How did sue prove these P It shall be my task 



Mr, Bain is Worsted. 339 

to answer that question; ay, and to pnblisli mj answer to all 
the world, unless she is wise. 

The postscript angered him even more than the letter. 

** What a designing jade !" he mntt^red, " to get me to give 
her the name of a safe tool, and then nse him without my help. 
But 1*11 unearth this poor wretch Mor^ed, and wring her 
secret out of him if, as I suspect, he kno^ it. First to follow 
her, though — hunt her down before she has put the barrier of a 
second marriage between her fortune and me." 

What Mr. Bain suspected was a matter which he kept tp 
himself, but whatever it was he was not unwilling to take 
Sylvia Perriam for his wife. She was the loveHest woman he 
had ever seen, and the wealthiest who had ever come within 
his orbit. He could manage to make light of a little peccadillo, 
which with most men would have been a stumbling-block in the 
rosy path to the altar. 

** xhere are not many who would marry her, suspecting what 
I suspect," he told himself meditatively, as he thrust that 
crumpled letter into his pocket. "But then most men are 
poltroons in their dealings with women," he argued. " I am no 
more afraid of her than those Indian snake charmers of the 
serpents they hang round their necks." 

He went downstairs, saw the housekeeper, spoke very lightly 
of Lady Ferriam's departure, as if it had been the most natural 
thing in the world, ascertained that there was no information 
to be had in this quarter, and left the Place with his usual 
steady bearing. Yet the world was considerably changed for 
him, and he no longer felt sure of those outlying lands which 
he and his father had worked and schemed, with infinite as* 
tuteness and calculation, to add to the Perriam estate. 

One thing, however, he did feel sure of, that if he did not get 
the outlying lands he would have revenge. 



OHAPTEB LYI. 

"eithee I'll be thy slave ok thy destegier.* 

Very grave was Mr. Bain's aspect as he rode back to MoiSk- 
Lampten — ^the suppressed smile, a smile of lurking triumph, 
Lad vanished from his lips, and there was a look of settled 

Surpose which augured ill for that person whom the steward 
eemed his enemy. He did not draw rein at his house in the 
High-street, but rode farther into the town, and stopped at 
another house of the same period, but a house "^^^ith more pre- 



840 Taken at the Flood. 

tension to crandear than Mr. Bain*s sabstantSal and liom^ 
dwelUng. This house stood a little way back from the street^ 
and had a narrow shmbbery in front of it» guarded hj iron 
railings, with wide g^tcs right and left, and a semi-circnlar 
gravel sweep for the accommodation of carriages. The dignity 
of this gooa old house, as an ancestral mansion, was somewhat 
compromised by a side door, which had been made on the leli 
of the dining-room windows — a door adorned with a very larg« 
brass plate, and at ni^ht made conspicuous by a red lamp whi<ui 
burned above it. This was the abode of that well-to-do citizen, 
Mr. Stimpson, the family practitioner. 

It was not long after two o'clock, the hour at which Mr. 
Stimpson regaled himself with a comfortable and substantial 
luncheon, washed down by a glass or so, perchance half a bottie, 
of his own particular dry sherry. Mr. Stimpson was a femily 
man as well as a family doctor ; but he had married late in life, 
and his habits had been formed without reference to Mrs. 
Stimpson or the little Stimpsons. So while the wife and 
children had their noisy, boisterous meal in the dining-room, 
the doctor took his chop and his pint of sheny comfortably in 
his snuggery, where he could not be pestered by rude boys de- 
manding potatoes, or shrill girls swamping the doubtfully clean 
table-cloth with small beer. 

Mr. Bain was lucky enough to find Mr. Stimpson still lin- 
gering over his cosy little luncheon, trifling with a biscuit, and 
digging choice morsels out of the cavernous depths of a Stilton 
cheese, one of those choice Stiltons with which grateful patients 
occasionally rewarded Mr. Stimpson's labours. 

** Sit down, Bain," he said, with friendly familiarity, " and 
help yourself to a glass of that sherry. No sugar there, sir; 
no brandy; no suppressed gout or heartburn in that wine. 
Nothing wrong at home, I hope P You're looking pale. Miss 
Bain keeps up pretty well under her heavy responsibilities — 
admirable young lady, a pattern to all Monkhampton." 

** Yes, my daughters are very well. They are good girls." 

** Excellent girls, sir ; first-rate girls ; girls such as you don't 
often meet with nowadays," said the doctor, bursting with 
enthusiasm, and with the air of knowing a good deal more about 
the Miss Bains than their father himsdf was aware of. 

" My family are well enough, I am happy to say," said Mr. 
Bain, after he had drunk a glass of the doctor's favourite 
sherry, an acrid fluid which seemed nearly related to some of 
the doctor's tonics. " I did not come to speak about them." 

** Not about yourself, I hope," exclaimed the doctor, running 
Ms eye over Mr. Bain with professional scrutiny, not uneager 
to detect indications of some chronic disease which would make 
Shadrach as profitable a patient as his wife had been* 



*' Either Til he thy Slave or thy Destroyer'' 341 
^ Upon a much more serious subject than any ailment o( 



mme.** 



** Good heavens, Mr. Bain, you alarm me." 

" I shall give you better cause for alarm, perhaps, before 1 
have done,** said Mr. Bain gravely. " You know what my posi- 
tion was with Sir Aubrey Perriam P " 

" One of entire confidence, I am aware." 

" Yes, and of more than confidence, of affection I served 
him, and I honoured him as I have never served or honoured any 
other man. I was proud to think of him as my master — from 
my boyhood I had made it the study of my life to watch hia 
iuterests. After his paralytic seizure, I became, as you know, 
his right hand. His helplessness drew us nearer together. I 
felt as if I were attending the decline of a Jbeloved father." 

"Highly creditable to your nature, sir," said the doctor, 
warmly, wondering what was the drift of these remarks, which 
seemed to lead nowhere in particular. 

" You may remember that when you advised my taking my 
poor wife to Cannes, on the second occasion, I somewhat shrank 
from doing so, though it is not my habit to recoil from the 
performance of a duty, be it ever so onerous. The fact was that 
I did not like to leave my old friend and employer in his 
broken-down condition. It may have been a foreboding, per- 
haps even a warning intended to deter me, but I certainly felt a 
profound disinclination to leave him, even for a few weeks. 
Judge, then, of my horror when I returned and heard that he 
was dead." 

" A sad blow, doubtless," exclaimed Mr. Stimpson, wondering 
moie and more as to the drift of this lamentation. 

" I heard that he was dead — suddenly, unexpectedly snatched 
away. Before I returned he had been huddled into his grave." 

" Don't say huddled into his grave," protested Mr. Stimpson. 
" The funeral, though strictly private, was performed in excel- 
lent style. I attended it myself, remember. There was abso- 
lutely nothing wanting." 

" Yes, there was one thing — an inquest upon the dead man." 

" An inquest P — quite uncalled for, my d!ear Bain. Granted 
Sir Aubrey's death came upon us somewhat unexpectedly at 
last, si ill it was not to be ranked among sudden deaths. He 
was a confirmed invalid, and in a condition in which he might 
go off at any moment without astonishing any medical man 
acquainted with his constitution. The heart had been feeble ^ 
a long time. I have very little doubt that the heart was the 
immediate cause of death." 

** Don't you think a post-^mortem examination would have 
been better than specnlition or theory upon such a question a« 
thatP" 



842 Taisn at the Flood. 

^A pott-mortem examination could not baye brongbt Sil 
Aubrey back to life, and it would bave given extreme pain to 
Lady Perri^m." 

" I percefc^. You considered tbe living ratber tban tbe dead.** 

** I could do notbin^ for tbe dead, but I could spare uselesa 
and needless pain to ^e living/' answered Mr. Stimpson, wiUi 
offended dignity. He did not like to bave bis conduct questioned 
by Mr. Bain. 

" And yon never tried to understand tbe cause of Sir 
Aubrey's deatb. you took it for granted tbat be died of beart 
cliFease.** 

" I did not say beart disease/' said Mr. Stimpson, looking 
uncomfortable; "I only said tbat be bad a weak beart. Tbere 
was no organic disease.*' 

*' How long bad be been dead wben you saw bim P" 

" Some bours. I was not sent for till morning, and be died 
sbortly after midnigbt. I found Lady Ferriam in a fearful 
state of distress ; tbe sbock bad been almost fatal to ber. If I 
bad not tbougbt mortf of tbe living tban tbe dead at tbat time, 
sbe would bave been in a brain fever, very likely, before the day 
was out." 

" You gave your attention, tberefore, to tbe living patient, and 
did not trouble yourself about tbe dead?" 

" There was nothing for me to do." 

" You made no examination of tbe body P " 

" To what end P I would not disturb tbe repose of tbe dead. 
Mrs. Carter bad performed tbe necessary offices. Sir Aubr^e 
limbs bad been composed in tbeir last rest for some bours wben 
I saw bim.** 

"Ob, Mrs. Garter laid bim out, did sbeP Where was bia 
faithful old valet, Chapelain P Why did not be assist in tbat 
last sad office P" 

*' He was confined to bis bed by an attack of gout — a victim, 
I very much fear, to intemperance. He left Ferriam Place 
before the funeral, a thoroughly broken man, to go back to 
France, most liberally rewarded, though Sir Aubrey's will bad 
not yet been read. Lady Ferriam rewarded bis fideuty from ber 



own purse." 



" Sir Aubrey was much changed, I suppose P You did not 

glance at his race, perhaps P" 
*' Yes, I looked at the face. The room was somewhat dark, 

but I did perceive a change, a more marked change than death 

vsuall^ makes." 
** Did tbat give rise to no suspicson in your mind P •* 
** Good heavens, no I What suspicion could arise from it P " 
** Tbat Sir Aubrey bad not oome by his death fiurly.** 
** Mr. Bain, are yon mad f " 



^'Mther Fll he ihy Slave or ihy DeBtroyer.^^ 348 

"I nrpe not, but I have brooded upon the subject of vaj 
employer's sadden, and, to my mind, mysterious death, until it 
has assumed an awtul shape in my mind. "Why were you not 
sooner summoned to that deathbed P why were hours suffered to 
elapse P why was the corpse laid out before they took the trou- 
ble to send for you ? " 

" I attribute anything unusual in the circumstances to Lady 
Perriam's prosti'ate state at the time/' said the doctor. 

"Well, perhaps I am wrong. Pray do not for a moment 
imagine that I suspect Lady Pernam. Not for the world would 
I harbour such a thought. She is doubtless as innocent as she 
is beautifaL Never did I hear Sir Aubrey utter a complaint 
against her. Never did I hear her repine at her lot. The 
person I suspect is Mrs. Carter — that smooth, silent time* 
server." 

" A singularly reserved person, I admit. But I cannot see 
what motive she could have for harming Sir Aubrey." 

" She may have believed that his will had provided for her. 
In some moment of childishness he may have made her some 
promise which kindled avarice and inspired wonder." 

Mr. Stimpson brushed up his few grav hairs with an agitated 
movement of his hands, till they literally stood on end. Very 
pale looked Mr. Stimpson, as he clutched the decanter and 

Eoured out another glass of the dry sherry wherewith to fortify 
imself against the horror of Shadrach Bain's suggestion. 

" I don^ beHeve it," he exclaimed. " Why do you come here 
to alarm me with such a cock-and-bull story, simply because I 
respected the feelings of a refined and deHcat« lady, and took 
some trouble to save her the torture of a coroner's inquest? 
What is your motive in coming here with such insinuations, 
Mr. BamP" 

" Simply to put you on your guard. I thought from the fiist 
that there was something wrong about Sir Aubrey's death. 
Circumstances that have occurred of late have gone very far to 
confirm this opinion. I thought it my duty to warn you. In 
the event of any revelation some discredit might fall u|>on you 
—you might be accused of want of care. Take my advice, Mr. 
Stimpson, and not a word of this to any one till you hear 
more from me, or from some one else. Good day to you. I've 
some particular business to transact down street, and can't stop 
any longer." 

"Mr. Bain — ^my dear Bain — for goodness' sake be more 
explicit," cried the doctor piteously : but Shadrach Bain had 
len» the room before his appeal was finished, leaving the fia.milj 
practitioner in a state of collapse. 

« 1 Qunk Pve laid the train neatly there," the lawyer said to 
himself as he walked away from the surgeon's in thi ^-'---**— 




94A Taken at the Flood. 

of the bank. " If Lady Perriam changes her mind and wmm 
into my way of thinking, it will be easy enough to withdraw 
all I have said. If not, it is the beginning of the machine that 
shall destroy her." 

He went to the bank, paid in two or three small cheqnes 
which he had carried in his pocket for a week or two, and tnen 
asked if he conld see Mr. Standen. 

" Mr. Standen is not in Monkhampton. "Wonld Mr. Fhilpotti 
do P " inquired the clerk. 

'* Ko. I wanted to see Mr. Standen himself, particnlarlj 
Will he be back in a day or two, do yon think P " 

" I've no idea, but I'll ask Mr. Philpotts if yon like. I dare 
say he knows," said the clerk civilly, anxious to oblige so good a 
customer, one who in some measure represented tne Perriam 
estate. 

** Do, there's a good fellow, and if you can find out where Mr. 
Standen has gone I shall be doubly obliged.*' 

The clerk vanished into an inner room, and speedily reappeared, 
smuing. 

" Mr. Philpotts had a letter this morning, sir. Mr. Standen 
is not expected back just yet. He's at Antwerp." 

"At Antwerp P" 

** Yes, sir ; on a tour, I suppose. His letter was from Antwerp. 
He might be leaving directly to go up the Bhine, but he wrote 
from the Hotel Peter Paul, Antwerp." 

" Thank you, that'll do. I'll write to him by this afternoon's 
post. I wanted to consult him about a little bit of land conter- 
minous to the Dean House property. Good morning." 

Shadrach Bain went back to his own house. He knew all 
that Monkhampton could help him to discover. 

" At Antwerp I " he thought ; " at Antwerp. The chances are 
that those two — Lady Perriam and Edmund Standen — are 
acting in concert, and that she has gone after him. Where else 
can she have gone P She boldly avows her affection for him in 
her letter to me. She has ^one to join him at Antwerp, to be 
married to him most likely, if I don't prevent it. But it'll be 
strange if I can't put a stop to that marriage. I wonder how 
often the steamers go to Antwerp? Stay, the quicker way 
would be to go from Dover to Ostend, and then on by rail. Yes, 
that shall be my route, and I must get to Dover in time for to« 
night's mail." 

The steward was a man prompt in action. He went to his 
.office, gave verbal instructions and a page or so of written 
memoranda to his clerks, told them he had to go to Belgium on 
business for a few davs, or possibly more than a few days, gave 
instructions as to tne forwarding of letters and telegrams, 
packed his portmanteau, and announced his departure to his 



** Hither Til le thy Slave or thy Destroyer.^* 345 

astonished children, ate a mutton chop, thongh with the smallest 
inclination for that sustenance, and was at the station in time 
for the 3.45 train, which reached London at a quarter to eight, 
time enough for him to catch the mail for Dover. 

At midnight, he was standing on the deck of the fast little 
steamer, speeding over moonlit waves in the balmy August air, 
and meditating upon the course that lay before him. 

He followed Sylvia Perriam with a settled purpose. If he 
failed to win her for his wife, he meant to denounce her. That 
which had been only a dark suspicion in his mind was now 
almost certainty. 

It was his firm belief that Sir Aubrey Perriam had oome to 
an untimely end at his wife's hands. 



CHAPTER LVII. 

**An! LOVE, MY HOPE IS SWOONING IN MT EEART.** 

SrLViA and her belongings landed at Antwerp early in the 
morning after they left St. Katherine*s wharf. Cehne, the French 
maid, was quite in her element amidst all the bustle and confu- 
sion of the quay, siuce many of those jabbering tongues which 
made a Babel around the travellers jabbered in French ; but 
poor Mrs. Tringfold gazed about her in helpless amazement, as 
much alarmed as if she had found herself amidst a tribe of 
North American Indians, or the dark aborigines of Central 
Africa. 

"I never could abide foreigners," she muttered to herself, 
since there was none other to whom she could confide her 
emotions, "and to live among them must be awful, not knowing 
what one's eating or drinking, or if the natives mayn't be 
laying a plan to murder one. I'm sure they all look like it." 

Lady Perriam made short work of the ordeal with the custom- 
HoYse officials, who glanced with an indulgent eye at the port- 
manteaux of so liberal a lady, and then had her child and nurse 
and a maid put into a coach and whisked off to the Hotel St. 
Antoine. She did not think it advisable to put up at the hotel 
where Mr. Standen was staying. 

She chose her rooms, a bedroom for Tringfold and the child 
opening out of hers ; a saloon with three windows, gorgeous 
with crimson velvet and looking-glass; altogether a princely 
suite of apartments. But this splendour evoked no admiration 
Irom Mi«. Tringfold. " The rooms are 'andsome enough," she 
laid to Celine, who happily understood English, " but Uiej're 
not 'omely. I feel a somethink wanting in tnem.** ^^m 



846 Talren at the Flood* 

Breakfast was served for my lady in the solitary grandeur of 
the saloon. Tringfold and Celine took their refection in a 
smaller apartment, which did duty for day nursery. Tringfold 
brightened a little at sight of a beefsteak and fried potatoes, 
which she confessed was more unsophisticated than sne eould 
have expected from foreign cooks. "But I shouldn't wonder if 
it was horse flesh, for all that,*' she added dubiously. Horse 
flesh or ox flesh, however, Triugfold ate, and with an appetite. 
She had been prostrated with sea-sickuess during the passage, 
and her inside, as she informed Gdline, was nothmg but empti- 
ness. 

Lady Ferriam*s breakfast was a briefer business. She ate a 
morsel of roll, drank a cup of coffee, and then made her toilet 
before going to the Hotel Peter Paul in quest of Edmund 
Standen. 

She was feverishly impatient for their meeting, fearing lest 
some evil hazard should prevent it. He might have left Ant- 
werp without waiting for a reply to his letter. Swiftly as she 
had hastened, to answer his question with her own lips, she 
might be too late. Fate had been against them heretofore. 

" How haggard I look !'* she thought, as she put on her bonnet 
before the strange looking-glass. 

Strange mirrors are no flatterers. They are apt to give a 
green and sickly hue to the human countenance, hke that de- 
spondent view of life which obtains in some minds. Lady Perr 
nam's deep mourning intensified the pallor of her tired face. 
The hazel eyes had a heavy look. It was still perfect beauty, 
but not the fresh young loveliness that had smiled upon Edmund 
Standen in the half-light under the chestnut tree. 

" Love will make me beautiful again when I am with him," 
she said to herself. 

She ordered a fly, and drove off to the Hotel Peter Paul, a 
large and somewhat gloomy-looking hostelry, not far from the 
famous Eubens house, which travellers go to see. Here she 
asked for Mr. Standen. 

Yes, there was an English monsieur of that name in the 
hotel He was at that moment writing his letters in a private 
room. Would madame desire that he should be summoned, or 
would she go to his apartment P 

Madame said she would go to his apartment. The waiter led 
her up a slippery staircase to a room on the first floor, a room 
fronting the big empty square which wakes into spasmodic life 
only on market days. How Sylvia's heart beat as she followed 
the man up the stairs, along the corridor, till he tapped at one 
of the tall doors, to which tap came the brief answer in a voice 
•he knew, " Entrez ! " 

It was not the waiter» but Sylvia, who entered. Edmund wai 



**Aht LovCy my Sope is Swooning in my jleart,^^ 347 

writing at a table near a window, with his back to the door, 
and did not even look round, or lift his head, expecting no one 
but the waiter. Sylvia went close to his chair, and touched 
him lightly on the snonlder. At that light touch he started to 
his feet, saw the lovely face looking at him pleadingly, and 
clasped her in his arms. 

" Sylvia, is this your answer?" he cried rapturously. For- 
gotten his dishonour, his broken promise, his mother's wrath, 
Esther's sorrow : all forgotten in tnat exquisite bliss. 

"What other answer would you have?" she asked, half 
reproachfully, looking at him with tear-dimmed eyes. " Haven't 
I told you that I never ceased to love youP What better answer 
could you expect to the most foolish question that was ever 
asked P I am yours, Edmund. Yours to the end of life. Why 
did yon run away from me P " 

" I did not run away from you, but from my own disgrace. I 
have behaved like a scoundrel I execrate myself for my folly 
in ever beHeving that I could forget you, or live without you." 

" Yes, that was a mistake, certainly," replied Sylvia, with a 
serene smile. She felt now that the world was her own. Cleo- 
patra, with Antony at her feet, could not have felt a more com« 
plete sense of soverei^ty, or a greater contempt for Octiivia 
than Sylvia felt for Miss Eochdale. 

" A mistake that caused j)ain to another," said Edmund^ self- 
accusingly. For him, conscience would never be silent, not 
even at this supreme hour, when he had Sylvia's bright brown 
head lying on his breast, Sylvia's eyes looking up at hmi, radiant 
with triumphant love. 

" Bah ! It was Miss Eochdale's own fault if she was deceived. 
She knew how fond you had been of me, two years ago. She 
should have known tnat you had no heart to give her." 

" She believed in my honesty of purpose, Sylvia. She did 
me tiie honour to trust my word, only to discover that I had 
lied to her. She will never know that 1 lied to myself as well." 

" Go back to your Miss Bochdale," cried Sylvia, snatching 
herself from his arms. " It is clear you care more for her than 
for me." 

" You know I do not, Sylvia. You know that I tried to care 
for her — ^tried to set her in your vacant place — ^to look forward 
hopefully to a future shared with her; but I could not. Your 
spell held me too stronglj." 

" Did it P " cried Sylvia. " I'm glad of that Do you believe 
in the power of one mind over anotherP I do. Often and often, 
in those slow, wretched days at Perriam — after — after Sir 
Aubrey's death — ^when I hoped you would oome to see me and 
you did not come, I used to fold my arms ^pon my breast, and 
olose my eyes, and try to send my will to role yours: '^JEBd* 



848 Taken at the Flood. 

muBd, come to me/ I used to say; 'Edmtmd, be true to me,* 
Edmund, I love you, give me love for love.' Did the cHann 
work?" . 

** It did," he answered, clasping her to his heart again. Hiey 
were lovers once more — betrothSi — all in all to each other — 
standing alone in their own narrow world, as in the old days 
under the chestnut tree. " The charm did work, Sylvia, but it 
was the old charm — ^the same spell which bound me that spring 
day when I saw you first in Hedingham Church. I was never 
released from that sweet thraldom ; I onlv fancied myself free." 

"You are my prisoner for evermore,* said Sylvia, claspinff 
her arms lightly round her lover's neck, as he bent his head 
towards her. " And now, Edmund, let us talk of the future,** 
she went on, releasing him from that gentle bondage, and seat- 
ing herself by the open window, below which lay the sleepy old 
square white in the noontide sun. " There is no fear of poverty 
now— no terror of a stem parent disinheriting us." 

" No," said Edmund, rather moodily, " you are rich emough.** 

" And you are poor — poor for my sake — and you scorn to owe 
wealth to me P Is that it, Edmund P I made myself disagree- 
able once because there seemed a chance of your being poor, 
and now you are going to make yourself disagreeable because I 
am rich. 

" No, Sylvia, I am too happy to be disagreeable. What wel- 
come can I give you glad enough, my brave girl, for having come 
to your lover P We will care nothing for any world but our own 
world ; and if other people despise your husband you will never 
scoi*n him, will you, Sylvia P " 

** Scorn you !" she echoed. "You know I have always con- 
sidered you the best and noblest of men. Yes, even when I 
treated you so hardly." 

" We will forget all past sorrows, Sylvia. And now tell me 
how you came here. I have been too surprised and too happy 
to ask the question any sooner. How did you come to Ant- 
mrerpP Not alone P" 

"No, not alone." 

"Your mother, perhaps, came with you. The mother for 
whom you sacrificed yourself. She has need to be fond of you, 
and to cling to you." 

Sylvia looked embarrassed. 

" No,'* she said ; " my mother is not with me." 

Was he going to use his right as her betrothed lover, and ask 
all manner of awkward quesuons P She looked away from him 
uneasily ; looked down at the broad sunlit place, witn eyes that 
hardly saw the tall white houses, with their quaint gables and 
shining windows, and little mirrors stuck out to oatch the rar« 
reflection of vehicle or pedestrian. 



** Ah! LovCy my Mope is Sujooning in my SearV^ 349 

** Where is she then, darling P She should have been with 
YOU at snch a time as this. Does she doubt my friendship for 
ter P My Sylvia's mother would be sacred in my mind." 

*' She has endured so much sorrow, and shrinks from strangers. 
By-and-by, of course, it will be different. She is staying near 
London with old friends. You need not trouble yourself about 
her, Edmund ; she is amply provided for." 

" I have no doubt of that. But you said you did not wme to 
Antwerp alone." 

** I had my son and his nurse with me. My own maid as 
well." 

She saw the little shiver he gave at the mention of her son — 
an involuntary expression of that lurking jealousy with which 
he had ever regarded the heir of Perriam. Here was a claimant 
for Sylvia's love who could never be thrust aside — whose claim 
would strengthen and widen year by year, till by-and-by her 
natural pride in her first-bom might make her almost indifferent 
to her husband. Maternal love must needs be an absorbing 
passion. And Edmund had sacrificed too much to his mistress 
to endure the thought of sharing her affection, even with her 
child. 

" Oh, the little boy is here," he said, with rather a blank 
look. 

" Yes, Edmund. He is to be 'your son henceforward, remem- 
ber." 

" I cannot help loving him for his mother's sake, if " 

**If what, Edmund? " asked Sylvia, when he hesitated. 

*' If you do not love him too much." 

** You need not be afraid of that," she answered, with her 
cold smile. " I am not a model mother." 

Ilie phrase jarred upon him somehow, although but this mo- 
ment he had been jealous of the child's claim upon her love. 

" You shall love him as much as you like, darling," he said. 
•* I don't mean to be a cruel step-father. The little one shall be 
as dear to me as if he were my very son. Is he not yours, and 
should not that oe an all-suflBcieut title to my love ? Ah 1 Syl- 
via," with a sigh, " you little know what fond day-dreams I 
used to weave about your first child — our first child." 

" Never mind the past, Edmund. We have the present and 
the future." 

** Yes, darling, happiness has come to us at last." 

** And now show me Antwerp — and all the famous pictures." 

" Let me seal my letters, and then I am at your service." 

•* You have been writing to your mother, I suppose P " 

" No, I wrote yesterday, to tell her my whereabouts, in case 
^e should care to write to me. But I hardly expect ft ^ettor. 
i am an outcast from Dean House." 



850 Taken at the Hood. 

" For my sakeP Well, Ferriain Place is at your disposal 
till St. JoMi is twenty-one. Twenty long years to look forward 
to. We shall be tired of mansions perhaps by that time, and 

flad to fall back upon tbe comfortable old bonso which is mine 
V my marriage settlement. But to whom have yon written 
that long letter, if not to yonr mother P " 

" To my chief at the bank, telling him that I can never 
return to Monkhampton, and he must get me a post else- 
where." 

" Tear np yonr letter then — or add a postscript to say that 
yon have done with banking altogether." 

" No, Sylvia. If we are to hve at Perriam Place, I shaM 
simply cancel this letter, and write to tell the directors that, 
with their permisson, I shall resnme my duties a month hence." 

" What, you mean to stick in an office — to earn some paltry 
pittance of a few hundreds a year — when I have an ample in- 
come for both of ns P " said Sylvia indignantly. 

" I mean to be — so far as possible— just the man I was when 
I first loved yon, Sylvia, and not leas independent. Do yon 
think I could know an hour's happiness if I felt myself a pen- 
sioner upon the wealth your first husband left yon P N'o, dearest, 
let me but earn my living — my habits are simple — my wants 
few. Let me earn my five hundred a year, which will more 
than suffice for my own maintenance — and though I may live 
among splendours that are not my own, I shall feel myself not 
the less an honest working man — not quite unworthy of your 
love." 

" Do as you please," said Sylvia, ofi*ended, but stifling her 
umger ; " I see you intend to be my master." 

" No, dearest, only the master of my own independence. In 
all reasonable things I will be your slave." 



CHAPTER LYin. 

8HADBACH BADT LOSES THE SCENT. 

Mb. Badt arrived at Antwerp the day after that meeting be- 
tween Lady Perriam and her lover. He had been detained at 
Ostend for some hours — arriving in the early summer dawn« 
when only a melancholy waiter with half-shut eyes was to b« 
found astir at the hotel where Mr. Bain sought shelter and re- 
freshment. There would be no train to carry him on to Ant- 
werp till eight o'clock. The slumberous waiter took Mr. Bain 
into a salle-d-manger with three long windows, curtained with 
whito muslin^ looking into a dism^ courtyard. Here, on a 



Shadrach Bain Loses the Scent. 851 

narrow table, appeared those pasteboard piles of fruit and those 
bouquets of painted paper flowers which beautified the daily 
meal for the patrons of the hotel. These decorations seem 
never to be removed by night or day, since there they were at 
five o'clock in the morning. 

The traveller seated himself at one end of the table, and after 
waiting about an hour was rewarded with a breakfast of coffee 
and rolls, and a cold fowl. This despatched, he perambulated 
the silent town and the sea wall, thmking his own thoughts, 
and but little moved to admiration by the novelty of the scene 
around him. 

" Shall I be in time to find them P " 

That was the question which he was perpetually asking of 
fate — and by " them " he meant Sylvia and Edmund. 

Little by little the shutters were opened, shrill-voiced maid- 
servants appeared, and began with vigorous mops to splash and 
purify, the thresholds of doors. Ostend gradually awoke to 
life; and at last, after a delav that had sorely vexea the soul of 
Mr. Bain, the Antwerp tram started, and jogged along the 
sandy country at the leisurely pace of Belgian trains in general. 
Such a stunted apology for a train as it seemed to Mr. Bam, 
who was accustomed to the west country express, with its long 
line of carriages and screaming engine, rushinff arrow-swift 
acrose the faoe of the country. This train travelled at a foot- 

" I could have walked faster," thought Mr. Bain impatiently, 
as he looked at his opposite neighbour, a fat little priest, whose 
breath sent forth odours of garlic as he read his breviary. A 
stalwart matron sat beside Mr. Bain ; brawny vouths and dam- 
sels filled the remaining seats, and stuffed tne carriage with 
warm humanity. The Bel^an trains contam no more carriages 
than can be filled to repletion. 

Never had Mr. Bain endured such a wearisome journey. The 
innumerable little stations, the dust, the heat, the country 
women who assailed the travellers with baskets of fruit, the 
everlasting talk and screaming at every halting place, the getting 
in and getting out worried his anxious brain. His patience had 
been sorely exercised by the time the train rumbled into the 
gloomy Antwerp terminus. 

The sun seemed at its hottest as Mr. Bain drove through tne 
streets where everything glared whitely at him. Happily the 
drive was short, and he found himself at the door of the Peter 
Paul Hotel 

There is an English gentleman stavinff here, I believe ?*' bf\ 
began, in rather awkward French, ** Anglais rcste ici, nomme 
Standen." 

~ Mr. Standen was here, sir, this morning/' answered th^ 



852 Taken at the Flood. 

waitex, in very fair Enelish. He was a Grerman waiter, a wan* 
derer on the face of the earth, and a lingoisu "He left this 



morning." 
« 



eiaps 



Left ! At what time this morning P ** 

This was a death-blow. If Edmnnd Standen had left Ant- 
werp, Mr. Bain felt little doubt Sylvia had also left the city. 
She could but have come here for one purpose — ^to join her lover. 
He gone, she must have gone too. 

** xou are sure Mr. Standen left AntweipP" he asked the 
waiter; " sure that he did not go to another hotel P ** 

" Quite sure, sir. He drove to the railway station before 
eight this morning." 

** Do you know where he was going P " 

" No, sir, not exactly. But when he first arrived here he told 
me that he was going on to Cologue. It is possible that he may 
have changed his plans, but he said nothing to that effect." 

" Have you had an English lady staying at this house — ^yes- 
terday, for instance — Lady Perriam P " 

•• There has been no English lady staying in the house, sir. 
But an English lady came nere yesterday at about noon to see 
Mr. Standen, and they went out together. Mr. Standen was 
absent all day." 

•* Was the lady young, and in deep mourning P " 

" Precisely, sir. Young, in mourning, and extremely pretty.** 

** That will do. Have you any idea where the lady was 
staying P " 

" It was most likely at the Hotel St. Antoine, since Mr. Standen 
said he had dined at that hotel when he came in last night." 

Mr. Bain rewarded the waiter and drove off to the St. Antoine, 
there to discover that Lady Perriam had been there, had taken 
the principal suite of apartments with the intention of occupy- 
ing them sometime, as the manager supposed, and had departed 
with bag and baggage, /emwe de chamhre, child and nurse, that 
morning at eight o'clock, for Cologne, the manager believed. 

Mr. Bain started for Cologne by the first train that would 
convey him. He snatched a hasty savourless meal at the buffet 
of the railway station, and departed without rest or respite, 
sorely tormented in mind. 

They had the start of him, and there was no knowing how 
long they might keep that advantage. There was only one 
thought from which ne could derive comfort. Certain pre- 
liminaries must be gone through before Mr. Standen could 
marry Sylvia — certain papers procured, certain notices given, 
before the knot could be tied. These preliminaries would 
require time for their fulfilment. And before the time could 
elapse Mr. Bain would have overtaken the lovers. 

was night when he arrived at Oolq^ye^ too late for inqnirids 



Shadrach Bain Loses the Scenic S53 

tliat mnst needs occapj considerable time, as he Iiad no cine to 
belp him in his search. He did what he conld. He questioned 
the cnstom-honse officers as to any English travellers who might 
have arrived at Cologne that night. But the cnstom-hon.'*^ 
people told him that swarms of English travellers arrived ati 
Uologne by every train, that almost all travellers were English, 
or American, which came to the same thing. They had no 
power to distinguish one particular group among the herd of 
autumnal tourists. 
Mr. Bain began his quest at eight o'clock next morning, and 

gursued it tiU noon. He made his inquirios at every decent 
otel in Cologne, and even at boarding houses, but learned 
nothing definite. No one could tell him of any party answer- 
ing his description, and as to name, travellers were for the most 
part nameless. They came and went, and the hotel keepers 
knew no more of them than of the swallows that flew over the 
housetops. Mr. Bain ceased from his endeavours thoroughly 
disheartened, knowing not which way to go. 

Prom Cologne they might have taken one of many routes. 
He took the one most frequented, and went up the Ehine in a 
steamer — stopping at every landing place — everywhere pursuing 
his search, and always vainly. 

Then he turned back, branched off, and explored the line in 
another direction. He spent more than a fortnight in this 
manner — roaming through Grermany like a modem embodiment 
of the wandering Jew — ^writine to his son every night; and 
appointing the post office to which his letters were to be sent, 
and thus continuing to keep himself tolerably well acquainted 
with the progress of his business, and able to give detailed 
instructions upon all work he had in hand, so that, although 
Mr. Bain was m Grermany, it was not the less Shadrach Bain's 
intellect which ruled in the Monkhampton office. His clients 
could hardly feel impatient, when his chief clerk read the clear 
and sharp sentences m which Mr. Bain gave his instructions for 
the conduct of their affairs. 

"Upon my word he's a wonderful man," they said; " he nevei 
forgets anything. Such a clear head ! " 

He had entered upon the third week of this fruitless search — 
had driven and walked to and fro in the scorching August heat, 
amidst the blinding ^lare of the white dusty streets — passing a 
stranger through curious old towns, and takmg no more interest 
in the various pictures that passed before his weary eyes than 
if he had been amidst Sahara's arid waste. He was sick at 
heart, and he felt as if he had been wandering up and down 
this foreign land, by road and rail, for months instead of weeks. 
The strange diet disagreed with him ; the nnknowii tongues — 
tongues that sounded Uiick, fierce, and guttural in his ear—* 




854 Ubien ai the Mood. 

worried him. The sense of failure was the sharpest tofinre of 
all. Never till now had Shadrach Bain been beaten. 

" I hold the secret which will make her my slave if I can 
find her before she is Edmund Standen's wife," he told himself; 
" but if I am too late — if she is married before I can overtaJkg 

them — what then ? Why, then " mused Shadrach Baiit^ 

after an interval of deepest thought, " let me remember how 
she has cheated me. Bevenge is sweet. Sir Aubrey was a 
good friend to me. It would be hard that I shoula let his 
murder go unavenged." 

Mr. Bain had even consulted the police— had taken the pro- 
fessional opinion as to his chances ot success. But the chief of 
police to whom he applied shrugged his shoulders, and gave the 
applicant no encouragement. 

" In the first place," he said with official dignity, " this is a 
matter in which we could not possibly concern ourselves. But 
as a mere word of friendly advice I may as well tell you, taut 
were I in a position to help you, such a search would be utterly 
hopeless. When yon left Antwerp you had already lost the 
trail. You had no certain knowledge that the people you want 
had come on to Cologne. When you left Colopie you were com- 
pletely at sea. The time you have spent smce is time lost. 
X our friends may be in France, in Switzerland, in Italy, or they 
inay even have gone back to England." 

" Gone back to England 1 " That sentence struck upon Mr. 
Bain*8 ear like the vaguely worded counsel of a Greek oracle. 
" They may have gone back to England." 

A sudden idea struck him. He was a fool in these wretohed 
German towns, voiceless, almost mindless. Better to fight witb 
weapons he was used to handle. This dogged stage-by-sta^e 
pursuit had come to nothing. He had spent money, wearied 
himself to no end. He thanked the German police officer and 
started that night on his return to England. 

But not to Monkhampton. Beaten and baffled as he had been 
BO far, he had no idea of abandoning his search. He meant to 
find Lady Perriam. 

There was, of course, little doubt that she would eventually re- 
turn to the Place. She had too much at stake to turn wanderer 
over the face of the earth. She would go back to Perriam by- 
and-by ; but Shadrach Bain firmly believed that when she did 
return there it would be as Mr. Standen's wife. This was the 
contingency which he had to prevent. 

Three days' journeying by land and sea took him to Londc;;;^^ 
where he put up at a private hotel in one -of the streets out ot' 
the Strand — a comfortable, homely place enough, which he had 
been in the habit of using for the last twent"^ years whenever 
hd bad ocGasion to stay in London* He was'lmown here and 



Shadrach Sain Loses the Seent. 355 

respected, and not overcliarged. He liad the entire use of a 
small private sitting-room — uie landlady's own particular 
parlour, which she was too busy to occupy herself — without 
•paying for that accommodation. The house was quiet and 
orderly, and remote from observation. Here Mr. Bain felt like 
the spider in his web. Ife could spin his airy threads securely. 
His first act was to send the following advertisement for inser- 
tion in The Times newspaper : — 

" Mary Tringfold, widow, now Or lately of Hilldrop Farm, 
near Monkhampton, may hear of somethmg to her advantage 
by applying to x., at the Post Office, Norfolk-street, Strand." 

" If Lady Perriam is in England, Mrs. Tringfold is in England 
also," Mr. Bain reflected, " and it will be strange if she doesn't 
fall into the trap I've set for her and answer that letter. If she 
does answer it, the rest is easy enough." 

Mr. Bain managed his little plan with the utmost nicety and 
discretion. Of course it would not do for him to appear in the 
transaction. If Mary Tringfold answered that advertisement, 
and asked for an interview with the advertiser, a stranger must 
appear — a strange lawyer, who would tell her that a small 
iegacy had been left ner by a former mistress. She had 
been in service before she married, and Shadrach Bain had her 
history at his fingers* ends. It would be worth Mr. Bain's while 
to give a ten-pound note for the information he wanted, and a 
ten-pound legacy would satisfy Mrs. Tringfold that she had nut 
been duped by £ne advertiser. 

Before handing her this money it would be easy enough for 
a sharp-witted young man to draw from her all the information 
she had to give about her mistress and Mr. Standen — where 
they had been — where they were — ^their actions in the past, 
and their plans for the future. 

He had a handy tool for this business in the person of his 
landlady's son, a clerk in a lawyer's office, the modem type of fast 
youth, who, in his own more expressive than elegant phraseology, 
was ready for anything, "from pitch-and-toss to manslaughter." 



CHAPTER LIX. 

SECRET SERVICE. 

Shadrach Ba:n, having issued his advertisement, waited like 
the spider, for that unwary fly which he deemed must, sooner 
or later — even if the fly should haply be still a wanderer in 
foreign lands — ^become enmeshed in his net. No spider, in the 
last stage of attenuation for lack of flies, was ever more anxious 
or im^tient than Mr. Bain. 
The advertisement had appeared three times, and he was 



666 Taken at the Hood. 

beginning to tliink that bis return to England bad been alto- 
gether a mistake, and the absolute surrender of all bis cbanceSi 
when triumph ana hope came to him in the shape of a letter 
from Mrs. Tringfold ; a letter addressed from No. 17, Willough- 
by-crescent, Hyde Park. Now Mrs. Tringfold was not likely to 
be residing in so fashionable and expensive a district as Tybumia 
if she were living at her own charge. It was clear that sue was 
still ivith Lady Perriam, and WiUoughby-crescent was Lady 
Perriam's abode ; whereby Mr. Bain felt that the fly was almost 
in his web. 

Mrs. Tringfold's missivo was one of those composite docu- 
ments fluctuating between a note and a letter, in which her class 
delights. It ran thus : — 

"Mrs. Mary Tringfold's compellments to Mr. Y. Esqr., witch 
advurtised in The times papper, and I ham the Mary tringfold 
menshuned, witch her late husband was a Pharmer at ildropo 

Eharm. i shall be glad to hear off anythink to mi hadventeg, 
and she wil caul biff Mr. Y. wil saye wear. 

" Your oboediunt aurvent. 

"Mrs. Teingfold. 

" P. Hess. — i am in survus weth a Lady & can honely cum 
out hafter thee babey is gone too bed." 

Y., or Shadrach Bain, by his willing agent, John Sadgrove, 
the landlady's eldest hope, made haste to answer this letter, by 
a telegram, appointing that evening at nine o'clock for an inter- 
view, at the Quayside Hotel, Embankment-street, Strand. 

That postscript about the baby gave Mr. Bain the delightful 
assurance that Lady Perriam was to be found in Willoughby- 
crescent. Weak as were her maternal instincts, she was hatdly 
likely to separate herself from a son upon whom her future 
position in some measure depended. 

" Go where she will, she'll stick to the boy," mused Mr. Bain. 
** The only question is, whether by this time she may not be the 
wife of Edmund Standen. I shall know that before ten o'clock 
to-night, if Mrs. Tringfold keeps her appointment ! " 

The private sitting-room which Mr. Bain had the privilege of 
using at the Quayside Hotel was a little bit of a three-cornered 
apartment on the flrst floor, cut ofl^ a landing, and opening into 
a larger r«r.7ii in which the landlady and her family took their 
meals. In this larger room Mr. Bain was t« plant himself, 
close to the door of communication, which was to be lefb art* 
folly ajar, so as to give him the opportunity of hearing Mr. 
Sadgrove's interrogation of the visitor, and even of giving that 
young man a whispered hint if he^ found him wandering from 
Lis brief, or not master of the situation. Mr. Sadgrove, to 
nhoBe budding genius any little bnsineBS of a secret and foitiYa 



Secret Senriee. 857 

nature was pecnHarij interesting, flnng himself heart and son] 
into the case. He had ever admired Snadrach Bain; — had sat 
at his feet, as it were, from time to time, during the west 
country solicitor's brief visits to the Quayside Hotel ; and he 
felt proud to serve him, even without consideration of that 
modest pecuniary reward which Mr. Bain had promised him. 

The y(Aing man felt as important as an Old Bailej practi- 
tioner when Mrs Tringfold was ushered into the triangular 
parlour, where he sat, with an official-looking inkstand and a 
quire of foolscap before him. 

The bdsiness of the legacy was speedily despatched. There 
was a certain Miss Harper, of Mosstree, twenty miles from 
Monkhampton, with whom Mrs. Tringfold had lived ten years 
ago, as confidential maid and housekeeper, and whom she bad 
nursed in her last illness. 

" She didn't leave you anything, did she P " asked John Sad- 
grove with a business-like air. 

" Not a sixpence, sir, though it was expected by most folks 
as she would leave me well pervided for. The fambly give me 
some portion of her wardrobe — she had a handsome wardrobe, 
had Old Miss Harper, not having the heart to wear her things 
for fear of spoiling 'em, but hoarding of 'em like in her drawers 
and chestes. The fall I have on this evening was Miss Harper's 
— real Spanish blonde, and everlasting wear." 

" Well, I am happy to tell you that one of the late Miss 
Harper's relatives happened the other day to come across a 
packet of papers, and amongst them there was a memorandum in 
which Miss Harper stated her intention to leave you ten pounds." 

" Well, sir, it isn't much considering how faithfully I served 
her ; but anythink comes welcome after so long." 

"The memorandum was not a legal document, remember. 
Miss Harper's relatives were under no obHgation to act upon 
it ; but, with generosity that does them credit, they decided to 
let you have the whole benefit of Miss Harper's unfulfilled in- 
tention. I am commissioned by them to pay you the ten pounds." 

" I'm sure, sir, I'm much beholden. Shall I write and thank 
the gentleman — or lady P " 

" BTo, they require no acknowledgment." 

" They're very good, sir ; and I'm bound to say Miss Harper's 
fambly always treated me liberally. The fambly gave me my 
mourning, everythink of the best, though not so good as the 
black I'm wearing now for Sir Aubrey Perriam." 

" Sir Aubrey Perriam — ^the gentleman who married a pretty 
young woman shortly before his death," said Mr. Sadgrove 
carelessly, as if he had known all about it ever so long ago« ** I 
fuppose tiie widow is married again by this timeP" 

*' jfo»sir, not marriedi" aiiswerod Mrs. Tringfold significantly. 



858 Taken at the Flood 



I 



" But tbinlring aboat it, eli f " 

" Thinking about it a good deal more titan becomes a lady 
whose poor dear husba nd hasn't been six months in his grave ! 
It's all very well to pat up a marbial tablet, and shut yourself 
np in your own room, and see no company, and call that grief! " 
said Mrs. Trijagfold sententiously ; " but if you go and marry a 
young man you was keeping company with beforehand, not six 
months after your husband's funeral, them as looks deep into 
things will tnink your marbial tablet and your doleful ways 
nothing more than a blind. Blinds is made of a good many 
more things than calico at sixpence halfpenny a yard, sir,* 
added Mrs. Tringfold, winding up with an aphorism. 

" You can't expect grief to last for ever in young widows," 
rejoined Mr. Sadgrove jauntily, ** but I suppose Lady Perriam 
is hardly thinking of marrying just yet a while ? Six months 
hence or so she might make up her mind. She'll show some 
respect for the * conveniences,' as our French neighbours have it? " 

" What would you say, sir, if I was to tell you that Lady 
Perriam is going to be married to her first sweetheart — whicn 
all Hedingham knows there was carrying on between them 
before Sir Aubrey took a fancy to her — to-moreow morning P " 

" Nonsense, Mrs. Tringfold ! I can't believe such a thing ! " 

" It's gospel truth, sir, whether you believe it, or whether you 
do not." 

" Where are they to be married ? " 

" At Saint Francis of Sissy, sir, lust at the back of the cres- 
cent; a new church, and very high, they say; though to my 
eye the steeple isn't as tall as the spire of our new <murch at 
Monkhampton." 

" What time is the ceremony to take place ? " 

At half-past ten, and it's to be strickly private, as it had need 
be. They're to go to the Lakes for their honeymoon, and then 
back to Perriam — to brazen it out, as I say — which Mr. Stan- 
den, being in the Monkhampton bank, can't stay long away. 
Such a low match for a baronet's widow, and to give thai: 
precious boy a step- father before he's cut his double teeth !" 

" They are to meet at the church, I suppose now," said Mr. 
Sadgrove in a conversational tone, after he had helped Mrs, 
Tringfold to a glass of sheny and a biscuit. 

" Yes. Lady Perriam ana him is to meet at the church at 
twenty minutes past ten, and it'll be all over by eleven. Celine, 
her maid, is to be the only person with her, and me and my 
blessed boy are to start off to Brighton directly after the wed- 
ding, and stay there in lodgings uiot has been took for us in 
Bo& Grardens till we get our orders to go back to Perriam. It's 
to be tiie dbmaUest wedding as ever I heard of." 
^JSToir long haa Lady Perriam be«n in Willonghby-oresoent P" 



Secret Service. 859 

"Close upon three weeks. We came here straight from 
Brussels." 

" Oh, yon were at Brussels previonsly, were you P Pray take 
another glass of that sherry, it won't do you any harm." 

" Yes, sir — wishing you your health — we was three days in 
Brussels after we left Antwerps — where I didn't see nothing 
worth looking at but the Poll parrots in the Zoolylogicai 
g>ardens. My lady was three days at Brussels seeing all the 
nights — ^pictures and churches — and the battle of Waterloo. 
And then we left as abrumtly as we*d left Antwerps, and came 
back to London, where we stopped one night at the hotel, and 
the next morning Mr. Standen came to say as he had found a 
furnished house to suit in Willoughby-crescent, and before Sir 
St. John's dinner-time we was all comfortably settled, and glad 
I was to find myself among my rational fellow-creatures once 
more, instead of those jabbering Belgees." 

" Do you know why Lady Perriam came back to London so 
suddenly P *' asked Mr. Sadgrove, prompted by a whisper be- 
hind the door. 

"No, sir — not any more than I heard my lady tell Mr. 
Standen one day at Brussels, when I went to her room to fetch 
the baby — one can't help having ears — ^that there was no place 
like London, and that people were free to do what they liked 
there without any one noticing them. * London's like a forest,' 
she said ; * we shall be lost in it, Edmund.' It used to give me the 
cold shivers down my back to hear her call him by his Christian 
name, and Sir Aubrey not cold in his coffin, as you may say." 

The door behind Mr. Sadgrove now gave a gentle creak or 

g'oan, which, in the language of the spirits, meant that Mr. 
ain had heard enough, so Mr. Sadgrove forthwith paid Mrs. 
Tringfold her legacy, ten glistening new sovereigns, which made 
the young man's mouth water, and dismissed her, very well 
satisfied with what she had heard to her advantage. 

"Well, Mr. Bain, did I manage it all right?" asked John 
Sadgrove, with conscious merit, as Shadrach Bain emerged 
from the adjoining chamber. 

"You couldn't have done it better, John, and here's the 
sovereign I promised jrou. But you must beg a few hours' 
liberty to-morrow mommg, and go with me to the church where 
Lady Perriam thinks she is gomg to be married. I may find 
you useful as a witness." 

" ril run round to the office to-morrow morning to ask leave 
of absence, and be back here at half-past nine," answered John 
iSadgrove, blithely. " Are jou going to put a stop to the mar- 
riage P" he askea. 

" I think it's more than likely I ehall," replied Mr. Bain witk 
a grim smile. 



SOO Taken at the Flood. 

CHAPTER LX. 

**JU8T IMPEDIMENT.** 

It waft the morning appointed for Sylvia's second marriage—* 
that union which was to be the blessed falfilment of all hei 
girlish dreams, which was to bring her nothing but hapmness. 

Bestless had been her slumbers through the night tnat was 
gone, and haunted by awful dreams. Not once, but several 
times, in vague and various shapes, the event of the coming 
day had been enacted. Sometimes the scene had been life-like 
enough, the circumstances possible — some element of reason in 
the fabric of her vision ; at other times all had been densest 
darkness and wildest confasion. She had been drifting with 
her lover over storm-driven waves. They had stood together 
on the bare and empty deck of a wrecked vessel, while a priest 
in splendid vestments, such as she had seen at St. Gudule, in 
Brussels, had recited the marriage service; and, behold I just 
as he had joined their hands, a gigantic wave rose, white- 
crested, and broke over the ship, sweeping away priest and 
bride^oom, and leaving her alone, whirhng madly onward over 
that hideous ocean. 

In another dream she and Edmund had been together on 
some tropical waste of level sand, under a copper-coloured sky, 
the sultry air thick with white fever-tainted vapour, and every 
now and then a cloud of burning sand blown over them by the 
sudden blast of a hot wind. Here, too, they knelt side by side, 
and a voice that came, the dreamer knew not whence, repeated 
the words of the marriage service ; but before it was ended the 
bride looked at her companion, and lo^ he had fallen dead at her 
side, and a vulture was swooping down upon him through that 
awful sky. 

It was broad day when she awoke from this last vision. She 
started up in her bed, her forehead damp with the cold dews of 
fear, and looked at the summer light shining in upon her through 
the uncurtained windows. 

" Thank God, it was only a dream." 

She sprang up, rang for Celine, and began the operations of 
the toilet, though it was only six o'clock. Celine remonstrated 
politely, urged upon her mistress the duty of looking her 
loveliest in ner wedding bonnet, the most delicious chapeau 
of white chip, ostrich feathers, and palest mauve, the faintest 
suggestion of half-mourning, as a delicate compliment to the 
departed Sir Aubrey.^ 

"It*8 no use talking, Celine!" replied Lady Perriam, im- 
patiently, " I shan't attempt to sleep any more I I have had 
■nch horrible dreams.** 



''Horrible dreams, on the eve of bo happy a union! vfiaU 
Madame, c*€8t i/ncroyable I "* 

** It is true, nevertheless. I suppose I have had too mnch 
anxiety lately." 

"A canise dee dents du pau/vre petit" said Cfline naively. 
There had been trouble lately al)oat Sir St. John's dental 
development, and the maid imagined that ntatemal solicitude 
might have disturbed her lady's slumbers. 

Sylvia felt considerably refreshed after a cold bath, a cup of 
strong tea, and an elaborate toilet. She looked lovely in ner 
weddmg dress of pearl gray satin, trimmed with heavy Spanish 
point lace — a matronly costume, which rendered the youthful- 
ness of her beauty all Ihe more striking. 

" And now run downstairs and get me my letters," she said 
to Celine, as the clock on the chimney-piece struck nine ; " the 
post must have come by this time." 

The only letter she thought of was a possible greeting from 
Edmund — one loving line, perhaps, to welcome the day. She 
had communicated with the housekeeper at Perriam Plat^, aad 
ordered that letters should be sent to her, but of any such 
letters she had no thought this morning. 

Celine came back with a bulky little packet, wrapped in the 
thickest and creamiest paper, sealed with several seals— a 
jeweller's parcel, evidently. This was Edmund's greeting. 
She also brought a letter — a foreign letter — addressed to 
Perriam Place, m a delicate, nervous hand, a hand Sylvia knew 
very well, and re-addressed to Willoughby-crescent, in the 
housekeeper's clumsier characters. 

This letter was from Mr. Carew. His epistles were not 
frequent, and their puiport was generally eitner to ask or to 
acknowledge money. He had continued his easy life in the 
south of France — only varying it by an occasional visit to 
Paris, and Sylvia had every reason to suppose that he would 
spend the rest of his days in that agreeable exile. She had 
been sufficiently liberal to him, and they corresponded in most 
affectionate terms ; but Sylvia did not sigh for reunion with the 
father in whose companionship she had spent so many years of 
her life. 

She opened Edmund's packet first. It contained a ruby 
velvet case with her monogram — ^her new monogram, S. S., 
in gold — and inside the case, on a bed of white satin, reposed 
a diamond cross, the gems of large size, and of purest colour. 

Upon a slip of paper in the case Edmund had written these 
lines . — " Wear this to-morrow, dearest, for my sake, instead of 
the jewels you showed me last night. I should like to think 
that yon wore my ^t rather than Sir Aubrey's, on that solenoi 
day which is to nmte ns for ever.** 



862 Taken at tie Mood. 

"My own generous Edmnnd!" mmrmnred Sylyia, and nn* 
fronted tears clouded her vision. 

She had shown him her diamond necklace, Sir Aubrey's gift, 
the day before, and had asked him, half in sport, if she should 
wear it on her wedding day. 

She clasped the cross on her ueck before she even thought of 
her father's letter. The diamonds sparkled between the folds of 
rich lace which veiled throat and bosom. 

When her lover's offering had been adjusted to her satisfac- 
tion, with much enthusiasm and ejaculation on the part of 
Celine, Lady Perriam seated herself at the breakfast table to 
sip a second cup of tea and to read her father's letter. 

" You can go now, Celine," she said, ** but come to me at a 
quarter to ten to arrange my bonnet and veil." 

Mr. Carew's letter was briefer than usual, for, in the calnf 
retirement of his unoccupied life, he had been wont to write to 
his daughter with considerable amplitude. He prided himself 
upon being able to write a good letter, and his epistles had been 
for the most part as elaborate as those of travellers who have 
an eye to publishing their effusions in a permanent form, ''at 
the request of friends." 

To-day the letter was brief, and the tidings it conveyed were 
not agreeable. Sylvia's brow darkened as she read it. 

My dear Sylvia, 

After two years' residence in this genial climate I find my 
health established, and that nature has, in some measure, com- 
pensated herself by profound rest for the wear and tear of those 
years of toil which had made me an old man before my time. 
With renewed strength I find reawakening within me those 
yearnings for home and country which are, T suppose, innate 
m every breast. You are now your own mistress, rich, and 
secure in the noble position which your attractions won for yon. 
If I come now to sit beside your hearth— or perchance to dwell 
at a short distance from your house in some modest retreat of 
my own— I shall not feel myself an intruder. I am coming, 
therefore, my dear child, to claim your affectionate welcome, fi) 
taste the sweets of your bounty. You have been most generous 
to me during my e^ole, but I crave something more than pecu- 
niary aid. I languish for your society, your ever dutiful regard. 
I shall be with you, perhaps, in a day or two after you receive 
this letter. For the first tinae, therefore, I may venture to 
close my sheet with ou revoir, instead of adieu. 

Your attached father, 

James Carew. 

^ "One would ims^ne my evil genius had put it into his head 



" Jtf*^ Impediment.** 363 

p 0ome back at snch a time ! " thonglit Sylvia. ^ I wonder 
whether I have an evil genins P Most people wonld say no, for 
i have been so lucky. Bnt then the devils we lead of gave their 
slaves all their desires at the outset." 

She tried to calculate the time that must elapse before her 
father could arrive in England, but his letter was too vaguely 
written. It was dated nearly a week ago. If he had followed 
it he might be in England already. 

He would go straight to Perriam Place, no doubt, find her 
absent, obtain her address from the housekeeper, who would bo 
awed by his paternal authority, and come to Willoughby-cresccnt 
in quest of her. Hope whispered tiiat he would come too late. 

A bell rang loudly while she was standing with the letter in 
her hand, a bell that sent a thrill of fear through her heart, 
though it might be a commonplace summons enough. 

She had been breakfasting in a boudoir that had been ex- 
temporized for her, a bright little apartment, adjoining ber 
dressing-room. This room was held sacred to her privacy, and 
when a masculine step sounded presently on the landing, she 
told herself it must be Edmund. No one else would venture to 
intrude at such an hour. 

C^ne opened the door, and screamed, '' Madame, it is mon- 
sieur your father V* 

Another moment and Sylvia — shedding tears of vexation — 
was clasped to her father's breast. Not so fondly would he 
have clasped her in the old days when he was the parish school- 
master, and she his nnrecompensed handmaiden. It maj be 
that severance had taught him the value of his only daughter. 

" My love," he exclaimed with emotion, " this is rapture ! I 
knew not the feelings of a father's heart till this moment." 

For half a minute or so he indulged those feelings, and shed, 
or seemed to be shedding, paternal tears upon Sylvia's soft 
brown hair. After that gusn of emotion he put her suddenly 
away from him. 

" Let me look at you, my love," he exclaimed ; " let me see 
how these two years have ripened your young beauty. Yes, 
the bud is expanding into a blossom, but it has not lost the 
freshness of its early bloom. But, my sweet Sylvia, what, in 
Heaven's name, is the meaning of such a splendid dress at this 
early hourP Has fashion invented some morning assembly? 
What is the meaning of this almost bridal attire ?" 

Sylvia looked him straight in the face, nerving herself for a 
battle. 

" It simply means that I am going to be married,** she an- 
swered in ner coldest, h&rdest tones — ^tones that meant ** no 
surrender." 

*' You— are— iEoing^— to be manned I** ejaculated Mr. Oarew. 



864i Tetien ai the Mood. 



** six montlis after your husband^s death — sncli a husband ai 
Sir Aubrey Perriam !" 

" I know that it may seem strange to you — to the world,** 
answered Sylvia, " but I do not hold myself accountable to the 
world, or to you. I consult my own feelings this time, I sacri- 
ficed myself once to win comfort and ease for you. It would be 
a poor return if you were J;o reward that sacrifice by opposition, 
now that I seek happines^for myself.'* 

" The world will say hard things of you for this marriage, 
Sylvia." 

" Let the world say what it will. The world is always hard — 
hard to the rich — harder to the poor — hard to beauty — hard to 
virtue. Let the world hate me. It can never trample on me 
again, for I ask nothing from it. I am my own mistress. I 
am tired of a lonely, unprotected life, and am going to marry 
the lover of my youth, the only man I ever loved. Is that 
such a wicked act ? " 

*' It is an improper act to marry six months after your hus- 
band's death." 

" I suppose if widow burning were the fashion in this country 
you would come and ask me to be burnt alive rather than out- 
rage society," said Sylvia, with a bitter laugh. " You sold me 
to the highest bidder— and you have profited by the bargain, 
and are likely to profit by it for the rest of your life. What 
more do you want ? Did you intend to make a second barter — ^to 
find another rich man to pay you the price of my broken heart? " 

" This is unkind, Sylvia. If I profited in a small degree by 
your union with Sir Aubrey, you profited largely. And I 
think you were as much gratified to become Lady Perriam as I 
was to see you raised to that proud position. Let us not dis* 
pute, my love. For your own sake, I would entreat you to 
postpone your marriage. There is no reason you should not 
marry Mr. Standen, when a decent interval has elapsed. But 
if I have any influence with you I will exert it to the utmost 
to hinder your taking a step which will be the ruin of your 
good name." 

** You have no influence with me. You exhausted all your 
stock of influence when you persuaded me to marry Sir Aubrey 
Perriam. You shall not come a second time between me and 
the man I love." 

" Sylvia!" cried her father, desperately, " cannot you under- 
stand that I have no objection to make to your ultimate union 
with Mr. Standen. I only ask you to respect the laws of 
society — and to delay this marriage — if only for six months." 

" Delays are dangerous," answered Sylvia; " who know9 
i^ what might happen in six months?'* 
^ ^ What have joa to fear? You. who bfVYe youth, wei^tht 



*^Just Impediment*^ 865 

ind beantyP £dmnnd Standen has every tiling to gain by 



marrying yon " 



" Me might not always think so. Come, my dear father/' 
continued Sylvia in a lighter tone, " don't let ns spoil this re^ 
iinion by a needless dispute. Yon have always taken yonr way 
in life— )et me take mine — nnassailed by advice or interference. 
Do this, and we shall always be good friends. Oppose me — 

and *' She finished the sentence with a shrug oi her 

ehoulders, which was easy of interpretation. 

•• What then ? " asked Mr. Oarew. 

** In that case I must try to forget that I have a father.'* 

** Very well, Sylvia — ^take your own way. After all, it i& 
your reputation, and not mine, that is at stake. Why should I 
trouble myself about the matter? I have never been in the 
habit of making myself unhappy aboat other people's business. 
Let us say no more about it. Perhaps you win be good enough 
to give me some breakfast. I went down to Ferriam yesterday 
— found that you were living in London — got your address 
from the houseKeeper — and came back to town by the evening 
mail. I slept at the Great Western Hotel, and in my impatience 
to see you, would not even wait to breakfast before coming here." 

" You shall not suffer for that sacrifice," said Sylvia, gaily. 
She was eager to conciliate this unwelcome parent, now that he 
showed himself amenable to reason. She rang the bell, ordered 
the* best breakfast the house could produce at ten minutes* 
notice, and presently Mr. Carew found himself seated at a well- 
furnished table, with his daughter opposite to him, the aroma 
of choicest Mocha ascendinfi^ to his nostrils, and a rash-bound 
flask of Maraschino at his elbow. 

*' After all, papa, if you will only take things pleasantly, your 
nnexpected arrival is not inopportune," said Sylvia, ministering 
to her parent's wants with oaintiest care. "You can go to 
church with me. I shall feel a less desolate creature if I have 
your arm to lean on." 

•* My love, no one is desolate with five thousand a year," said 
Mr. Carew sententiously. " For people with such an inoome the 
world teems with friends !" 

** Yes, friends who are enemies in disguise — wolves in sheep- 
skin," answered Sylvia bitterly. " J shall not waste my money 
in ijaving for such friendship. My only hope of happiness 
is with the man who loved me for my own sake when I was your 
penniless daughter. 

Mr. Carew ate his breakfast — wound up with a glass of 
Maraschino — and discreetly held his peace. After all — as he 
had remarked just now— his daughter's too speedy marriage 
would make no difference to him. It was sba who must suffef 
Uid worJd's stx^xn. 



3G6 Taken at the Flood. 

They drove to the church — the new Gothic temple with its 
painted windows, which made patches of luminoas colour in 
the half-liffht of the vaulted aisles. Edmund was waiting for 
them in t£e porch — looking as happy as a bridegroom should 
look. No remorseful thought troubled him to-day. Mind and 
heart were alike filled with one subject, and that was Sylvia. 

He was surprised to see Mr. Oarew, but welcomed him cordi- 
ally, ready to forgive and forget the schoolmaster's insolent 
reception of his proposal two years ago. To-day was no day 
for the remembrance of old injuries. Marriage would be but a 
sorry business if every man were not a Christian on his wedding 
day. 

" My Sylvia," said the bridegroom proudly, as he drew h^r a 
little aside from the clergyman and Mr. Carew, and looked at 
her with fond admiring eyes, "how lovely you have made your- 
self, as if satin and lace were needed to enhance your beauty ! 
If you had come to me in rags, had come to me a beggar girl 
out of yonder street, I should love you every bit as wefl. My 
Sylvia ! mine at last ! mine for ever from to-day I" 

" Are jou ready ?" asked the clerk, who had remained politely 
unconscious of this sentimental episode. 

" Quite ready," answered Edmund, putting Sylvia's arm 
through his and moving up the aisle. 

•* Not quite, I think, when you have heard what I have to tell 
you," said a familiar voice, as Mr. Bain emerged from the shadow 
of a clustered column, and stood in front of bride and bridegroom. 

Svlvia ^ve a cry of despair, a shriek that echoed loud in the 
vaulted aisles, and flung herself upon her lover's breast. 

"He shall not part us!" she said; "Edmund, Edmund, bf 
true to me, let him say what he wilL" 



CHAPTEE LXL 

AT BAT* 

Edmund's strong arm clasped Sylvia closer to his breast. 

" My dearest, what need of alarm P " he whispered. •* I am 
yours to the end of life." 

Then, turning to Shadrach Bain, he exclaimed angrily, " Pray, 
sir, what is the meaning of this most unwarrantable intrusion P" 

" Unwarrantable, perhaps. Though, if I had been inclined 
that way, I might have come with a magistrate's warrant and a 
detective officer. You have reason to thank me for this intra- 
non, Mr, Standen, and to thank Providence that I am hev8 
JD tune to prevent your marriage witli that lady." 



At Bay. 367 

" Tliat yoa will never do, sir, let your audacity go as far as it 
nay. Stand ont of the way, if yon please, Mr. Bain» and let 
us pass to the altar." 

** If yon yalne yonr fntnre peace, yon liad better hear what I 
iave to say first," said Shadrach Bain with undisturbed cool- 
ness. "Perhaps this gentleman," glancing at the incumbent, 
who had come from the chancel to ascertain what was wrong, 
" would be good enough to allow ns a few minutes* private con- 
versation in the vestry. Unless Lady Ferriam would li^e me to 
speak out before every one." 

** What can you have to say P " asked Sylvia, looking up at 
him. Great heaven, what a blanched death-like face she lifted 
fixmi the shelter of her lover's breast; from brow to lip white ar^ 
her bridal veil I 

"Cannot you guess, Lady PerriamP" demanded Mr. Bain, 
with a threatening significance in his tones. "Before Mr. 
Standen makes you his wife, and takes the burden of your 
incumbrances on his shoulders, I should like, for his sake — his 
father was a good friend to my father, and IVe a natural interest 
in his welfare on that account — before the knot is tied I should 
like to ask you a few questions about the brother-in-law you 
shut up in a madhouse the other day." 

Sylvia stretched out her hands as if to stop that awful accuser 
who confronted her with a countenance of stone. She had 
cheated and disappointed him, and Mr. Bain had no mercy for 
people who did eitner. He was implacable against the woman 
who had done both. 

" Pray let us go into the vestry," she cried in piteous appeal 
to the clergyman. " Father, stay where you are. Let ihis man 
say what ne pleases against me. It is only a tissue of lies. 
But I don't want everybody to hear me insulted. Edmund can 
defend me. Edmund will stand by me. Yes, till death." 

She said this with an air of defiance that was almost noble. 
She fiung herself again upon her lover's breast, as if that were 
her strong rock. 

The clerk led the way to the vestry, looking infinitely shocked 
at this disturbance, Sylvia, Edmund, and Mr. Bain following. 
Here, with the door shut upon them, they could say what they 
liked, without creating a scandal in the church. The clergyman 
and Mr. Oarew remained in the aisle, bewildered. 

" I fear there will be no wedding to-day," said the incumbent. 

" Pshaw ! my dear sir — a mere passing cloud. I know some- 
thing of this man — ^the late Sir Aubrey Perriam's land steward, 
a seff-seeking fellow, who was allowed to exercise a great deal 
too much power during my son-in-law's life. I always suspected 
him to be a scoundrel?' 

Thus spoke Mr. Oarew with a mind ill at ease. Mr. Bain 



I 



8G8 Taken at the Flood. 

was too pradent a man to make a disturbance of tliis kind witlk 
out being tolerably snre of his ground. And Sylvia's whiti 
face bad been a mnte confession of guilt. What it migL! all 
mean James Carew felt powerless even to conjecture ; but iie 
feared it must mean something bad. An intrigue perhaps, or q 
broken promise of marriage. 

The vestrv door was shut, and those three were alone. Mr. 
Bain had len his satellite, John Sadgrove, in the church porch, 
ready to be of use in the event of his being wanted. 

" Well, sir," said Edmund sternly, " we are alone. What 
have you to say to us, and pray what do you mean by asserting 
that this lady's brother-in-law nas been snut up in a madhouse 
at her instigation ? ** 

Ko gossip from Monkhampton had reached Edmund sinc^ 
his departure. His letters from the bank had been of a purely 
business character. His mother had written to him only once, 
a letter full of anger and bitterness, in which she renounced all 
kindred with him. He knew nothing, therefore, of Mordred's 
removal from Perriam Place, an event which had been sufficiently 
discussed within a forty-mile radius of Monkhampton. 

"I state the simple truth — that Mordred Perriam was re- 
moved from the house in which he had lived a harmless, irre- 
proachable life for the last thirty years — removed at an hour's 
warning, by this lady — and confined in a private lunatic asylum." 

" Sylvia ! " exclaimed Edmund, " look up and tell me that 
this fellow is a liar." 

" Does sb'' ^ook hke denying it," sneered Mr. Bain, pointing to 
the pallid face, with its haJi-closed eyelids and agonized hps, 
which was slowly turned to the light of day. 

" It is trruTt that Mordred is in a private asylum," said Sylvia ; 
** I did not like to tell you, Edmund — it was such a dreadful 
calamity to ^pBak about, and it might have set you against me. 
But it was by that man's advice I had Mordred removed from 
Perriam. He is a liar if he denies that." 

*' I do deny that I ever directly advised you to incarcerate 
Mordred Perriam," returned Mr. Bain unflinchingly. " I told 
you what people said about him ; I told you that people wanted 
to know why he had been kept a prisoner in his own rooms, 
hardly permitted to breathe tne air of heaven, ever since his 
brother's death. I warned you of the scandals that were circu* 
lating against you. And I asked you, for your own sake, to let 
me see Mordred Perriam and assure myself that he was not 
shut up in his rooms at Perriam Place, under watch and ward 
of a nurse — against his will — that he was not imprisoned to 
serve any purpose of yours. Let me be sure of this, I said to 
you, and I wiU give the lie to any one who dares to traduce 
]^oa, I ivill be your champion and defender ! What was youf 



At Bay. 869 

auswdr to my reanesi^ Lady Perriam P An eminently practical 
one. The day after I said this to yon Mordred Pemam was 
taken away from the home of his ancestors, in the keeping of a 
madhonse doctor. Withont an hour's panse for consideration 
or advice, without help or counsel from any living creature, you 
smuggled your dead husband's brother into an obscure asylum." 

"Sylvia, is there one word of truth in this man's charge 
against you?" cried Edmund, looking down at that terror- 
stricken face, whose awful pallor sent a thrill of terror to his 
heart. Only by some indication of guilt in herself could he 
believe her guilty. The words of her accuser would have seemed 
to him idle as the faint breathings of the summer wind but for 
that dreadful look in her changed face, which betrayed so abject 
a terror in the heart whose wild beating he felt against his breast. 

"Speak, Sylvia," he entreated; ** speak, my love, and give 
this fellow the lie. Tell him that your brother-in-law was not 
smuggled into an asylum ; that there was no undue haste, no 
secrecy ; that you were fully justified in all you did." 

** I was justified," she answered, meeting her lover's searching 
look with a gaze as steadfast, with eyes that would have looked 
in the face of death just as calmly. Her terror was vanquished 
now. Buin was before her, perhaps, but the nervous force, the 
indomitable courage which had sustained her so long had re- 
turned to her once more. Every vestige of youthful bloom had 
faded from lip and cheek ; her face had aged by ten years in 
hue and expression ; but her eyes shone their brightest, and her 
pallid lips were firmly set, defying misery and shame. 

•' I was justified,' she repeated. " The doctor to whom I 
confided Mr. Perriam was a doctor recommended by that man. 
Two medical men certified his insanity — everything was done 
fairly and openly. Yes, openly. I was not bound to give Mr, 
Bain notice of my intention. He is not my master." 

" Tell me why you took this sudden resolve of sending Mr. 
Perriam to a madhouse P " asked Edmund, somewhat reassured 
by her bolder manner, but still feeling that there was some 
deeper meaning in her agitation than a woman's natural shrink- 
ing from a false charge. ** Had he become suddenly violent P " 

*' Shall I tell you why Lady Perriam had him smuggled into 
a madhouse, Mr. StandenP" asked Shadrach Bain. 

'* No, sir. I ask no question of you. I seek no information 
fr*om you. I address my inquiry to the lady who will presently 
be my wife." 

** You had better spare yourself the trouble," said the 
agent with a short laugn. " You'll never get Lady Perriam to 
answer that question. I'll tell you why she put poor harmless 
Mordred out of the way — a man who was no more demented 
tha^ I am. She did it l^'^Aause he knew her secret, knew that 



I 



870 Taken at the Floods, 

her husband, Sir Anbrey, came to an nntunely death at her 
hande." 

Sylvia gave a shriek, and dropped to the ground at her lover's 
feet, with her arms extended above her head in adinration. 

" As snrelv as there is a Gk)d, whose justice I have offended 
that is a black and bitter lie!" she cried, her eyes gazing 
solemnly upward, as if she would indeed invoke Divinity to 
witness her truth ; " I am guiltless of my husband's blood. 

'* If you did not murder him, you planaed his murder," said 
Shadrach Bain. " I daresay you were too dainty a lady to do 
the business yourself, so got your tool and sycophant, Mrs. 
Carter, to take the dirty work on your hands." 

" It is false ! all false ! " cried Sylvia, still on the ground. 

Edmund raised her to her feet, held her as he had held her 
before, encircled and defended by his arm. 

" It we were not in a church, Mr. Bain, I should knock you 
down," he said coolly ; " as it is, I'll only ask you to walk out of 
this room a little quicker than you came into it, for fear I should 
be tempted to forget that the building is sacred." 

" Shall I go away, Mr. Standen, and leave you to marry this 
lady P Would it not be just as well to put her to the test first P 
Postpone your wedding till to-morrow, and come with me to 
unearth Mr. Perriam. The place where my lady has sent him 
is only an hour's Journey from London. See Sir Aubrey's 
brother for yourself If there is no secret, if there has been no 
foul play, I'll make the most profound apology to that lady for 
having done her eo deep a wrong. But at the worst there will 
not be much harm done. The postponement of the ceremony 
intended for to-day can be of very little consequence if you are 
but in the same mind to-morrow." 

** Let it be so," said Edmund, decisively, after a moment's 
thought. " We will delay our marriage till to-morrow, Sylvia — 
and I will devote to-day to the proof of this man's calumny." 

" You will not go with him," cried Sylvia, wildly, the old look 
of terror coming back to her face. " x on will not go with him, 
Edmund P To do that is to acknowledge your belief in his 
blander. You cannot surely believe " 

** I believe nothing against you, dearest. But there is only 
Due way of meeting sucn a scandal as this, and that is to un- 
earth its falsehood. I will go to the asylum with Mr. Bain. I 
will see and speak with your supposed victim, and I will demon- 
strate your innocence from any wrong towards him before I come 
back to you." 

" Edmund," pleaded Sylvia, desperat4>ly, slipping from ;her 
lover's breast to his feet, where she knelt, a piteous spectacle of 
Belf-abai>ement, — " Edmund, if you ever loved me, do not go." 

**I Jove you too well to suffer your goo^ name to rest under a 



At Bay. 371 

dond tliat I can dispel. G jntemptible as the slander may be, 
the lie must be made manifest.*' 

" Yon are going, then P " she asked despairingly. 

"I am going, Sylvia — release me,'* as she clnng abont his 
knees. *' My dearest love, yonr hnmiliation is more painful to 
me tham this man's accusation." 

He freed himself from that despairing clasp, opened the door, 
and beckoned to Mr. Oarew, who was waiting with an anxious 
face not far &om the entrance to the vestry. 

"Take care of your daughter," he said; "take her home 
immediately, and let no one intrude upon her till my return. 
There will be no wading to-day. I shall be back in a few hours 
to explain everything." 

" Are you really going, Edmund P" asked Sylvia. 

She stood by the door, marble-pale, but with the calm of spent 
passion. Her breath came faintly and thickly, and that was the 
only token of her agitation. 

" Yes, dear love, I am going to vindicate your honour.'' 

"Kiss me once more, Edmund, before we part." He was 
quick to obey the behest. He clasped her to his heart, and kissed 
iips and brow. 

" Do you remember our parting kiss in Hedingham church- 
yard, Edmund P A Judas tiss you thought it afterwards, for 
it heralded your betrayal. Kiss me once again — trust me once 
again — if only for an nour. This is a bitterer farewell to me. 
Wow go." 

She put him from her with a firm gesture, and went to her 
father's side, once more mistress of herself. 

" Let us go home, papa," she said, taking Mr. Oarew's arm. 

" Good-bye, dearest, whispered Edmund ; " remember it is 
only for a few hours. I shall return to tell you that I have 
exuded this senseless slander." 

'* Or not return at all," she answered, in a slow, sad voice, with 
the dull quiet of despair. Go, Edmund ; we have loved each other 
very dearly, but fate has been against us." 

He looked at her wonderingly, as if half fearing that her mind 
had lost its balance, and then tore himself away. She had 
spoken the truth. This was indeed a more painful parting than 
their first farewell, even though he thought to come back to her 
before the day was done — ^thought that their wedding was only 
put off for twenty-four hours. 

" Now, sir," he said to Shadrach Bain, " I am ready." 

" I've a cab waiting outside," returned that gentleman coolly 
** we shall catch the twelve o'clock train at King's Cross." 




872 Taken at the Flood. 

OHAPTEE LXIL 

WHO SAID "let death COME NOW ! 'tIS EIGHT TO DIE I** 

Mb. Oabew took Ids daughter back to the carriage sorely dis« 
turbed in mind, and in profonndest darkness of spirit as to the 
cause of this disturbance. The incumbent accompanied them 
to the carriage, blandly sympathizing with Lady Perriam under 
these unpleasant circumstances. 

A small sprinkling of nursemaids with perambulators and a 
fringe of street boys had gathered on the pavement before the 
church door, having scented out a wedding, despite the privacy 
which had attended Lady Perriam's arrangements. The young 
women stared their hardest at the bride as she came into the 
open daylight with her veil gathered across her face. Sylvia's 
death-like pallor showed conspicuously through that transparent 
tissue, and there were murmurs of wondering compassion at 
the whiteness of her face. The small boys in the crowd com- 
mented freely upon the bride's pallid countenance, and opined 
that she had been married to that ** skinny old bloke," meaning 
Mr. Carew, against her wish. 

Not a word did Sylvia utter during the brief drive to Wil- 
loughby-crescent. She alighted without the help of her father's 
arm, passed with a quick firm step into the hall, and ran up- 
stairs. Mr. Carew followed her, and arrived breathless at the 
door of her boudoir just as she had reached it. 

She turned and confronted him with angry eyes. 

" Why do you follow me ? " she exclaimed. " I want nothing 
except to be feft alone." 

" But, Sylvia, for mercy's sake, tell me the meaning of all this 
unhappiness. What brought that man Bain to the vestry P " 

" You will know soon enouffh. Cannot you leave me in peace 
for a few hours P Your wish has been gratified — my marriage 
is postponed." 

" I should be glad of that if there were no trouble for you 
i^olved in the postponement. Why cannot yon trust me-^ 
your own father ? " 

"Because yon never acted a father's part towards me," 
answered Lady Perriam. " I would sooner appeal to strangers 
for mercy or for aid than to you. Leave me to myself." 

Mr. Cfarew groaned faintly, and drew back from the door, 
which was shut in his face a moment afterwards. Shut and 
locked. He heard the turning of the key. 

But even after having excluded her father. Lady Perriam was 
not destined to be alone. As she locked the door opening on 
"# landing G^Iine emerged from the door of communication 



" Let Death cdme Ifow I 'tis Mi^hi to Die ! " 373 

with the dressing-room, where she had been engaged in her daily 
labonrs of tidying wardrobes and drawers. 

"But, great heaven, madame, how you are pale!" exclaimed 
the girl, struck by the change in the face which had been so 
fair an hour ago. 

" Don't trouble yourself about my looks, but take off these 
things as quickly as you can." 

The giri, who knew nothing of the interrupted wedding, 
obeyed, wondering not a little, but afraid to' question. She 
took off the pearl-gray satin dress with its priceless Spanish 
point, two hi/ndred years old — the white satin slippers — the 
muslin under-skirts with their ruchings of Brussels lace — all 
the costly adornment upon which her mistress had bestowed 
' such interest a few days ago. Sylvia flun^ them from her now 
with a shudder of aversion, as if they had been more loathsome 
than Cinderella's rags. 

Celine was about to unfasten the slender gold chain which 
held Edmund's last gift — the diamond cross. 

"Leave that where it is," said Sylvia, stopping the girl's 
hand ; " I shall wear that till I die." 

"Is it possible that madame' s mind wanders a little?" 
muned Celine. 

" Now give me the plainest dress I have," said Sylvia, when 
all the bridal finery had been taken away. 

" But, madame, there is the travelling dress all ready for you 
to put on — the dove colour and blue — the bonnet the venest 
gem. Mademoiselle Marchette said it was an inspiration. Why 
nofc the travelling dress P" 

" Be good enough to do as I bid you. Give me my black 
cashmere." 

" The mourning dress I But, madame, to go into black again 
after the wedding ! It would bring you misfortune." 

A look from Lady Perriam stopped the girl's tongue. She 
brought the sombre mourning dress, which made Sylvia's face 
seem a shade more ghastly than it had done before. 

"That will do," said Sylvia, "and now you can go. Tell 
the household my marriage has been put off— perhaps only 
till to-morrow — possibly still longer. You will see tnat my 
father has everything that he asKs for. I want a few hour a 
rest, and shall He down. Don't disturb me till Mr. Standeit 
calls this afternoon." 

" Mr. Standen is going to call. They have not quarrelled, 
then," thought Celine. "What can have happened to make 
her look so awful P" 

She ran downstairs to discuss this strange ever^. with Mrs. 
Tringfold — as they had discussed the course of their mistress's 
brief Qpurtship. The other servants in the house were strangers^ 



w 



874 Ibkm at the Flooi. 

■with whom Online had no sympathy. They were left to wondei 
and speculate among themselves — while Mrs. Tringfold and 
Celine discoursed in the nursery with closed doors, and a cold 
chicken and a bottle of champagne from the marriage feast 
wherewithal to regale themselves. 

" I don't beheve there'll be any wedding breakfast at all,** 
said Online ; " she wouldn't look as she does if the marriage 
was only put off for a day. There's something deeper than 
that." 

" I never thought no good would come of it from the moment 
we went among them foreigners," said Mrs. Tringfold with con- 
viction; "there must be something altogether wrong about 
people when their own native land isn't large enough for *em." 

Sylvia sat alone in her misery — sat in the centre of the room, 
motionless, like a lifeless figure that had been put there. The 
broad midday sun streamed m at the window opposite her. The 
ruthless sun, which shines alike upon the just and the unjust — 
the happy and the desDairing. Once she lifted her eyes to that 
glad summer sky, ana thought how the sunlight and summer 
of her life had passed away for ever. 

"I have tried to be fortunate as well as happy — tried to have 
all good things," she reflected, " and in trymg for too much 
have lost all. I should have been a happy woman if I had 
been contented with a reasonable share of lortune — satisfied in 
having won Edmund's love, ready to fight the battle of life 
with him." 

She remembered her father's words on the night of Sir 
Aubrey's first visit to the schoolhouse — 

" There is a tide in the affairs of men. 
Which taken at the flood leads on to fortune.** 

" I took that tide at the flood," she thought, " and it has drifted 
me to ruin." 

She sat for an hour without change of attitude — and in that 
hour the vision of days that were gone passed before her like 
an unfolded scroll, a bitter retrospect, the picture of a life in 
which self had reigned supreme, and which had ended in deepest 
self-abasement. 

She awakened from that long reverie at last, looked at her 
watch, found it was later than she had thought, hurriedly put 
on her bonnet and mantle — the crape bonnet with its large veil 
and narrow fold of white, the mark of widowhood — the loose 
cashmere mantle. Dressed thus, with her veil down, she was 
not likely to attract notice. 

She took all the money she possessed, and her diamond neck-, 
lace out of her jewel box, and put them into a small morocco 
hag» This bag was all she took with her. 



" Let Death e(me Now ! His Bight to Die I " 376 

She opened the boudoir door, went out upon the landing, and 
listened. All was perfectly still in the house. She went do>vn- 
stairs, past the nuraery, where she heard the voices of C^linu 
and Tnnf^fold in earnest converse ; went by, with hardly a sigh 
of regret for her child, crossed the hall, opened the street door 
softly, and slipped out. 

Once in the street she flew along with light footsteps, turned 
the comer of the crescent into a wide and busy road, hailed the 
first cab she saw, and stepped into it. 

" Drive to the London bridge station," she said, " Brighton 
Kne." 

She knew there were several ways of getting to France, and 
that one way was by Newhaven and Dieppe. If she were fol- 
lowed, her pursuers would most hkely take it for granted she 
had gone by the Dover and Calais route. By choosing the 
slower journey she would have a chance of escaping them — 
supposmg that any one took -the trouble to follow her— sup- 
posing that any one guessed she had gone to France. 

At the station Lady Ferriam found that there was a train 
which would start for Lewes in half an hour, and that she could 
get on with some little delay to Newhaven, but at Newhaven 
she would have to wait till late in the evening before the boat 
started for Dieppe. 

She had no definite purpose in this flight — no plan for the 
future. No distant ray of hope beckoned her on. She only 
wanted to escape the shame of the present; not to hear Ea- 
mund's voice accusing and renouncing her ; not to be brought 
face to face with her sm. She wanted to go to some comer of 
the earth and die, nameless and alone. That self-love which 
had been the governing principle of her existence was just 
strong enough, even in her despair, to prompt her to provide 
herself with the jewels and money which would serve to sustain 
the life that had become hateful. 

The train carried her to Lewes, where she had to wait a weary 
hour and a half before another train took her on to Newhaven — 
a dismal pause, in which that solemn scroll whereon her past 
life was recorded again unfolded itself, and again she thought 
how sweet her days might have been had she asked for less — 
had she been content to take her lot in blind submission from 
the um of Fate instead of trying to improve upon Destiny, 

All that day she had eaten nothing, and for many past days 
had lived in a perpetual fever of hope and fear, always vaguely 
dreading that " something" which might happen to frustrate 
her scheme of the future ; never able to repose in the calm 
assurance that Providence would rule her life for the best. By 
Mie time she took her place in the Newhaven train faintness 
increased almost to ezhaustioiu A mist dimmed her ejen, her 



876 Taken mi the Flood. 

limbs felt heavy and painfal. The landscape snrged before her 
like a troubled sea. 

She had jusjb strength to get ont of the railway carriage to 
follow a porter to the hotel, but she had Bcarcely entered the 
aitting-room to which a chamber-maid conducted Jier when she 
fell fainting to the ground. 

The landlady was summoned, and, hearing that the uncon- 
scious traveller had no luggage and no attendant, was only 
mildly sympathetic. 

" xou had better get her to bed, Jane, and send for the 
doctor,'' said the hostess, after various restoratives had been 
tried without effect. " She seems very \vu^" ' 



OHAPTEE LXni. 

A VOYAGE OF DISCOVEET. 

Mr. Bain and his companion drove to the Great Northern Eail- 
way in silence, took their tickets for Hatfield, and started in the 
midday train with as brief exchange of words as was possible be- 
tween them. In the railway carriage each gentleman had hio 
newspaper, and each pretended to read it. One, the accuser, was 
cool enough, and was even able to take some interest in the 
markets and com exchange and other subjects that affected his 
own prosperity. 

He knew what lay before him. He was working out a scheme 
that had been deliberately concocted. He had sworn to have 
one of two things — Lady Perriam for his wife, or revenge. 
That Lady Perriam would ever be his wife seemed now beyond 
all hope ; but he was going to have his revenge, and he was not 
ill-satisfied with hims^f. Nor would self-interest be sacrificed 
in the indulgence of this fierce desire of unregenerate mankind. 
If he could prove Sylvia. Perriam the criminal he believed her 
to be, he must needs remain the sole ^ardian of her child. 
There was no one to dispute that office with him, and the Court 
of Chancery would have no ground for ousting him. During 
Sir St. John's years of tutelage he, Shadrach Bain, would be, to 
all intents and purposes, master of the Perriam estates. 

To him, therefore, this journey was not a journey of despair. 
Tet some emotion the man must needs feel, u he was not a mere 
mechanical figure made of some hard metal. He did feel a 
certain movement of the heart, a dim sense of the awfulness of 
his errand. All that had happened to-day, Lady Perriam's 
iiorror-stricken countenance, her undisguised despair, her piteous 
Sintreatj to Edmund not to go ^h him to the madhouse^ all 



A Voyage of Discovery Z*ll 

had tended to coulirm Mr. Bain in his belief that Sir Aubrey's 
death had been Sylvia's work, and that the prisoner to be un- 
earthed to-day knew of the crime, and would proclaim it, were 
his lips unsealed. 

" I know what Joseph Ledlamb is, pretty well," mused Mr. 
Bain, " and I know tnat he^d lend himself to the concealment 
of the vilest crime that was ever done upon earth if he was 
paid well enough for his silence. It shall be my task to let the 
light in upon nis snuff little home. Lady Perriam reckoned 
upon too much when she fancied she could make use of a tool 
of my providing." 

Edmund sat in silence behind his paper, thinking deeply, but 
not so much of what lay before him as of that strange scene in 
the vestry. Vainly did he strive to account for Sylvia's agita- 
tion upon any ground consistent with innocence. The despair- 
ing accents of her farewell still rang in his ear. Had she been 
fuiltless would she have feared his desertion P could she, who 
new the depth of his love, suppose that their parting would 
be final? xet, if guilty, what was the nature of her guilt P 

That it was the hideous crime suggested by Shadrach Bain he 
did not for an instant imagine. Even had ne been capable of 
believing in the infamy of the woman he loved, Sylvia's denial 
would have assured him of her innocence, at least upon this one 
point. Truth had spoken in her tones— truth had glorified her 
countenance in that one supreme moment when, with uplifted 
eyes and hands raised to heaven, she had asserted her innocence. 

That she had committed an act of cruelty and injustice in 
sending Mordred Perriam to the dreary imprisonment of a 
private lunatic asylum, was just possible, and that she was 
smitten with shame at the revealment of this wrong. Alas ! 
Edmund Standen knew but too well that this enchantress, for 
whose sake he had made so many sacrifices, was not altogether 
stainless ; that she was not free from the taint of selfishness. 
She might have been glad to get rid of a troublesome dependant 
— to clear her house of a tiresome old man. She might so far 
be culpable. 

Wh atshould he do if he found that it was so — ^that she 
had allowed eccentricity to be treated as lunacy — that she had 
betrayed the trust left ner by her husband, and had needlessly 
banished Mordred from the house of his forefathers P What 
should he do ? Blame, reprove, and then forgive her ; take her 
to his heart again, with all her errors on her nead, and make it 
^iC business and duty of his life to reform and elevate her 
^aracter. 

Tliis was the lover's resolve. He would set right the wrong 
ihe bad done, and then forgive her. Even her sin should oot 
^rt them. 



i 



878 Taken at the Flood. 

At Hatfield Mr. Bain hired a fly, and after a good deal of talk 
with the driver, contrived to make him nnderstaiid the direction 
in which he required to be conveyed. At first the flyman 
asserted that he never heard tell of no place within twenty 
miles called the Arbour. But after profound rumination, and 
after scratching his stubby hairs a Uttle, opined that he did 
remember having had such a place pointed out to him on 
Honker's Heath# and " might it be a 'ouse where they took folks 
that was a trifle cranky P" 

" That is the place," replied Mr. Bain ; " drive us there as fast 
as you can." 

"It's a seven-mile drive," remarked the man dubiously; 
** fourteen mile there and back, and my fare will be fourteen 
shillings." 

" I shall not dispute your fare." 

" And I shall want somethink for myself." 

" If you drive quickly there and back I'll give yon a crown," 
said Edmund, eager to end the discussion. 

" Very well, sir ; you can't say fairer than that ; jump in ; only 
it's jest as well to avide disputes arterwards, ver see, and it's a 
wicked road betwixt here and Henker's Heath. 

The man drove off at a smartish pace, and the occupants of 
his vehicle were soon made acquainted with the wickedness of 
the road. Noble prospects and rustic beauty may abound in 
the environs of Hatfiela, but the road to the Arbour hugged the 
ugliness of the land. It lay in narrow lanes, and by the margent 
of waste patches of level swamp, where the sour land grew 
nothing but rush or thistle, dock or dandelion ; by black and 
dismal waterpools ; by scrubby groves of bare and stunted trees ; 
by meandering ditches, across which pollard willows leaned side- 
long, extending scraggy arms, like tne octopus — such a land- 
scape as that in which Macbeth and Banguo met the weird 
sisters. Yet, no; Scotland would not furnish such small and 
insignificant ugliness. Her dreariest landscape owns the gran- 
deur of size — over her most dismal plains the shadow of some 
distant mountain looms in rugged nobility, and the wind from 
wild deer- walks rushes across the barren level like the breath of 
the Great Goddess Nature. 

The sceneiT grew more ho^lessly barren as the travellesrs 
approached the end of their journey. Henker's Heath was a 
desolate flat, whose dull surmce of soddened turf was varied 
here and there by a ragged furze bush or a patch of stagnant 
water, hero and there enlivened by a despondent-looking donkey 
ilragging some clog or fetter at its hind-leg — a convict donkey, 
condemned to penal servitude for life, if one might judge by his 
look and manner. On one side of the heath was a narrow road« 
A&d along this the flyman drove^ till he came to a gate in a 



A Voyoffe of Discovery. 378 

dilapidated fence, behind which appeared the windows of a 
square plaster-fronted honse, whicn may have originally be- 
longed to some tenant-farmer in a small way — a honse to which 
neither wealth nor taste had added a single charm — the barest 
shell of a habitation, less habitable-looking than a gipsy's tent. 

" This is the place IVe heerd folks call the Arbour, said the 
flyman, pointing to the dwelling with a disparaging turn of his 

In confirmation of this statement appeared an inscription in 
^hite paint on the slate-coloured door: 

The Akbouk. — Dr. Ledlamb. 

** Wait for us," said Mr. Bain to the driver, as he and his 
companion alighted. " Kow, Mr. Standen/' he said, turning to 
Edmund, while they waited for the opening of the gate, " it is 
for you or for me to get this old man's secret out of him. That 
he has a secret, and one that will criminate Lady Perriam, is a 
fact upon which I am ready to stake every farthing I have in 
the world." 

" I am here to see the bottom of your scheme, sir," answered 
Edmund sternly; "I believe nothing you assert. I admit 
nothing. I am here, as Lady Perriam's future husband, to see 
her righted." 

" You had better see Mordred Perriam righted first," returned 
Mr. Bain with a sneer. 

The door was opened, after some delay, by a slovenly maid- 
servant, who seemed loth to admit the visitors. It was not till 
Mr. Bain had told her that he and his companion were friends 
of Lady Perriam's that she abandoned her jealous guardianship 
of the threshold and let them pass into the garden. 

Such a garden — a waste of weeds, and mould, and rough 
moss-^own gravel — a patch of grass that might once have been 
a smihng lawn, and a damp and ancient willow weeping over a 
shrunken pond, on whose muddy bosom two dirty ducks disported 
themselves ; a wilderness of potherbs on one side, where the 
cheap and fertile scarlet-runner ruled dominant, and the vegetable 
marrow sprawled its tough tendrils and flung its bloated yellow 
gourds upon the weedy waste. 

" I don't know as master will allow you to see Mr. Peeram," 
said the ^rl, '* but 1*11 ast, if you'll be so good as to step into 
the drawm'-room." 

Tlie visitors complied with this request, and were forthwith 
ushered into an apartment which made some pretension to 
gentihty. The walls were blotched with damp, and stained with 
mildew. The atmosphere was earthy, but the circular table 
boasted a gaily coloured cover, and was further adorned with a 
green glass inkstand, a papier-m4ch^ blotting-book, and a 



880 Taken at the Flood. 

photograph album. An ancient cottage piano stood against on# 
wall, a feeble old sofa faced it, a cheap print or two hinted at 
Dr. LedlamVs taste for art. The room was in rigid order, and 
was evidently held sacred to the reception of visitors. 

Here the steward and Edmund Standen waited for abomt a 
quarter of an hour, which seemed longer to both. There were 
footsteps in the room above, and a running up and down stairs, 

hich might indicate confusion, and preparation of some kind, 
ut Mr. Ledlamb did not appear. 

" Are these people going to keep us here all day P '* exclaimed 
Edmund impatiently. 

He went over to the fireplace and rang the bell, not an easy 
thing to do, for the wire was loose, and his first efforts only 
produced a distant jangling sound. 

" What a house ! " he exclaimed. " What desolation and 
decay in everything !" 

This aspect of misery grieved his soul. It would be harder 
now to forgive Sylvia's sin. That she had placed her brother- 
in-law under medical restraint, deprived him of actual liberty, 
he, Edmund Standen, might have schooled himself to pardon. 
But he had expected to find her victim surrounded by all tem- 
poral comforts, in the care of a medical man of position and 
reputation, whose name alone would be a guarantee for the 
patient's gDod treatment. 

To find him here — in this abode of misery — in a house on 
which abject poverty had set its mark! This was indeed a 
blow, and the young -man — he who a few hours ago had been a 
proud and happy lover — ^turned his back upon Shadrach Bain, 
and shed bitter tears at the thought of that callous selfishness 
which had abandoned a harmless old man to such an existence 
as life^in Dr. Ledlamb's rural retreat. 

No answer came to the bell. There was a window down to 
the ground, opening directly on the weedy patch that had once 
been a lawn. 

" I'll wait no longer," exclaimed Mr. Standen impatiently. 
" I'll explore this wretched hole for myself. You can come with 
me, or not, as you please, Mr. Bain," 

The maid-servant appeared at the door just as Edmund 
opened the window. 

" Oh, if you please, sir," she said, with a gasp, " I'm very 
eorry, but I made a mistake in allowing you to come in. Missus 
says Mr. Ledlamb is up in London attending to his business 
there, and it's against his rule for patients' friends to be ad- 
mitted without an appintment, except it's the friend which 
placed the patient in Lis care. And if you'll please to write 

ad ask for an appintment, Mr. Ledlamb will let you know when 
can see Mr. Feeram, providing you has Lady Peeram's life; 






A Voyage of Diseovery. 381 

Mr. Ledlam 'olding hisself responsible to Ladj Feeiam, and no 
one else." 

The girl stumbled slowly through this message, which had 
evidently been laboriously imprinted upon her mind, for she 
tried back when she had imished, and went over a good bit of it 
again, like a musical box. 

" m ask for an appointment by-and-by," answered Edmund. 
** But while I'm here I'll take a look round your pLice." 

" Oh, if you please, sir, you musn't ^o out into the garding," 
said the girl, with a frightened look ; " it's against the rules.** 

" Gome, Mr. Bain,'* said Edmund, heedless of this remonstrance. 

He went out of the window, followed by the steward. 

" Oh, if you please, you musn't,'* gasped the girl, in much 
alarm, and then finding her appeal unheeded she rushed out of 
the room, and tore upstairs crying, " Missus, missus, they've 
^one out in the garding, and Mr. Peeram's there with Sammy 
in the preamberlater.** 



OHAPTEE LXIV. 



MR. LEDLAMB's patient. 



Mb.. Standen's first act on getting out into the open was to take 
a survey of the house, thmking that Mr. Ledlamb's prisoner 
might in all probability be lookmg out of one of the windows. 
But the windows were all blank. 

Two of the upper casements were guarded by bars, doubtless 
with the view of preventing the escape of any desperate patient 
who might be inclined to emulate Jack Shepnard's evasion from 
Newgate. 

" Come round the garden," said Mr. Bain ; " from that girl's 
anxiety Til be bound ne's somewhere out here.** 

They crossed the grass to the stagnant pond where ducks and 
duckweed flourished, and where the ancient willow wept the 
desolation of the scene. That willow was the one bit of shelter 
in all that arid waste of garden, and between the drooping 
branches Mr. Bain's keen eye had discerned some object that 
looked like a human figure. 

He made for this spot, therefore, followed closely by Edmund. 
The willow was on tne opposite side of the water. They went 
quickly round the edge of the pool, Mr. Bain always in advance. 
X es, there was some one under the tree — a cHila*s shrill voice 
sounded as they approached, an old man's piping tones answer- 
ing. 

Mr. Bain parted the willow branches and looked into the 
natural arbour. 



882 Taien at the Flood. 

An old man was seated in a dilapidated wheel-cliair, an in^Emi 
hj his side in an equally dilapidated perambulator, and botli 
tnese helpless objects were under the care of a tall lanky-looking 
girl of about eleven years old. 

Shadrach Bain, not wont to display violent emotion, drew 
back with a loud cry, and the ruddy tints of his sunburnt face 
faded to a sickly wmte. 

" Sir Aubrey Perriam I " he exclaimed aghast. 

" What do you mean P " cried Edmund, seizing the agent by 
the shoulder. 

Mr. Bain did not answer him, but crept under the willow and 
hent over the old man, taking his hand, and lookiug into his face. 

"Sir Aubrey, don't you know me.^ I'm your old steward, 
Shadrach Bain, come to fetch you out of this wretched hole — 
come to take you back to life." 

" Yes, to life," answered the old man in senile tones, "ffhey 
made believe T was dead ; they told me to my face that I was not 
lubrey, but Mordred. They put me in Mordred's rooms, and 
kept me shut up there, and told me it would be worse for me if 
I called myself Sir Aubrey Perriam. Who was it that did 
this P " with a pained look and a wilder tone. " Not my wife, 
oh, no ! not my wife, not my pretty Sylvia. She was beautiful 
and good. She could never have been so cruel to me." 

"Never mind who did it, Sir Aubrey. It is all over now. 
No one wiQ dare to deny your name when I am by your side. 
Good God ! what a scheme for a woman to invent — for a woman 
to execute ! I see it all now. It was Mordred who died, and 
that woman made the world belieFve it was her husband. I wish 
you joy of your plighted wife, Mr. Standen," added the agent, 
turning to Edmund, who leaned against the tree white as death. 

The old man cluug to Shadrach Bain, like a child who has 
been restored to the nurse he loves. 

" Yes, 1 know, I know," he muttered ; " you are Bain, a good 
servant, a faithf il servant. Take me away from this place, 
this dull, cold, cheerless place. They don't beat me, they're not 
very unkind to me, but they're poor, and everything is comfort- 
less. Garter was always good, but she is iQ now, and I'm left 
with Sammy and Clara, and Clara calls me Mr. Perriam, and 
laughs at me when I tell her my right name is Sir Aubrey." 

Clara was the tall girl, who stood behind the wheel-chair, 
knitting a baby's sock. 

" That's his fancy," she said sharply ; " when he first went 
out of his mind he took it into his head that he was his elder 
brother — the one that died. It was his brother's death that 
turned his brain, father says." 

" His brain is no more turned upon some points than yours, 
my girJ," answered Mr. Bain. "His intellect was weakened by 



Mr. Ledlamh's Patient. 383 

a diroke of paralysis, but he's dear enough at times. He hai 
been nsed very badly, and I mean to take nim away from here 
without loss of time.*' 

" Yon can't do that," said the girl promptly. " Father won't 
let you." 

" I shall not ask your father's leave," replied Shadrach Bain. 
"You'll stand by me, won't you, Mr. Sianden P " 

" Yes, I will do what I can to see this poor old man righted," 
answered Edmund gloomiljr. 

" What is the matter with Mrs. Carter, the nurse P " asked 
Mr. Bain. 

" Inflammation of the lungs. She was took bad a fortnight 
ago, and father got her round a bit at first, but he says the 
cough has settled on her chest, and she'll never set over it. 
She's awful bad. "We were afraid last night she'd hardly have 
lived till this morning." 

" If you want to know the particulars of this business, you'd 
better stop and c[uestion Mrs. Garter," said Mr. Bain to Edmund. 
" She has been m it from first to last. She was Lady Perriam's 
prime confidant and advisei:." 

*• I'll see her," answered Edmund, " unless you want my help 
hi getting Sir Aubrey away." 

He had been gazing at the old man's face with earnest scru- 
tiny, to assure himself that this was indeed tbe elder and not 
the younger brother — ^that he was not being made the dupe of 
some jugglinff of Mr. Bain's. That scnitiny left no doubt in 
his mmd. This was verily Sir Aubrey Perriam, Sylvia's hus- 
band. Strong as had been the resemblance between the 
brothers, there was just sufficient individuality in the face to 
make Edmund Standen very sure upon this point, though he 
had seen Mordred but once in his life. 

" I only want you to go as far as the carriage with us," said 
Mr. Bain, " and then you can return and see Mrs. Carter. But 
don't commit yourself by any promise to condone her share in 
this conspiracy." 

"If she is dying, it can matter little whether her crime is 
condoned." 

" If — but it is just possible she may be no nearer death than 
I am. We can get Sir Aubrey to the gate in this chair. He 
used to be able to walk a little, but perhaps he's weaker now. 
It will be easy to lift him into the carriage between us. I shall 
take him to an hotel at Hatfield and keep him there till he can 
be moved comfortably back to Perriam." 

"But you musn't take him away," shrieked Miss Ledlam. 
Til run and tell mother." 

She sped off^on this somewhat futile errand, leaving the baby 
squallins in the perambulator, appalled by the sudden scHitudd. 



b 



SM TaJeen at the Flood. 

When she came back, followed by Mrs. Ledlamb, a timid-looking 
matron, who had been aU this tune trying to make herself pre- 
sentable to the eye of strangers, with the assistance of a good 
many too obvious pins and a clean collar, Sir. Anbrey and Mr. 
Bain had just driven off in the fly, and Edmund Standen was 
quietiy approaching the house. 

"tfe's gone, mar," screamed Clara; "they've took him dean 
away. 

Mrs. Ledlamb began to cry, 

" Your father will say it*s my fault," she moaned piteously ; 
" but what could I do ? I wasn't fit to be seen when they came, 
and was just getting myself a little bit tidy when you ran in to 
say they were going. And there's all our income gone at one 
swoop, for he was your pa*s only patient after we lost voung 
Hicks, the grocer's son, and goodness knows when he 11 get 
another. I'm sure I tremble when I think what he'll say to me." 

" It wasn't your fault, mar. You couldn't have stopped them 
if you had been dressed ever so. They'd have taken him awa^ 
by main force. There's one of the gentlemen coming this way. 
You'd bette^sk him what they meant by it." 

Mr. Standen, being timorously interrogated upon this point, 
would give no definite answer. 

"There has been a great wrong done," he said gravely. "I 
cannot tell what knowledge your husband may have had of that 
wrong, but I know that the first step towards setting it right 
was to get that poor old man out of tnis house." 

"I'm sure hes been treated kindly," wlumpered Mrs. Led- 
lamb, " and if he says he isn't, he's a deceiving old thing. He's 
had every indulgence. Sago puddings that I've made for him 
with my own hands, and mutton broth, and all kinds of delica- 
cies. I'm sure he's been treated like tiie family, and we've all 
of us borne with his worrying nonsense, when he said he was 
not himself but his brother. Clara has had the patience of an 
angel with him." 

Mr. Standen asked to see the nurse, Mrs. Garter, and afler 
some difficulty, by means of a good deal of persuasion and the 
gift of a five-pound note to Mrs. Ledlamb, as consolation under 
the sudden loss of income, he obtained permission to go np to 
the attic where the sick woman was lying. 

" She's very bad," said Mrs. Ledlamb. " I sat up with her 
half last night, thinking she was going, but it's a harassing, 
deceiving complaint, and I daresay she'll go on lingering ever so 
long, a burden to herself and others." 

Mrs. Carter, otherwise Mrs. Carford, lay on her narrow bed 
facing the casement, through which the westering sun stroamed 
with soft, yellow light. She was the very shadow — the pale 
^host — ol' that Mrs. Caiter who had been seen at Perriam a 



Mr. Zedlamb*t Patient. 885 

nKHLth ago. The bright brown eyes looked larger than of old, 
larger than thej had seemed even in her days of semi-starva- 
tion, when she came a suppliant to Hedingham schoolhouse. 

Yet, even now, with tnat deadly brightness, they were like 
Sylvia's eyes. Edmund perceived the resemblance at once. He 
sat (jnietlv down by the bedside, and took her hand. She looked 
at him at firsi with a dull indifference, thinking he was some 
strange doctor who had been brought to see her. Then a gleam 
of recognition flashed into her eyes. She remembered a face 
she had seen in a photograph Sylvia had shown her — the face 
of her daughter's first lover. 

** Is — Sylvia — is Lady Perriam here P" she asked. 

" No, but if there is anything on your mind — anything you 
wish to tell before you are called away — ^you need not fear to tell 
me. Whatever wrong you have done is now past atonement 
upon earth. Try to secure God's pitv by a late repentance. 
Do not carry the secret of your sin to the grave." 

"The wrong I did was not done for my own sake, but for 
another. If I tell the truth, it is she who will su|Eer." 

" If yon are speaking of Ladj Perriam, be assurea that nothing 
yon can tell me can anect her injuriously. In the first place her 
secret is already known, and in the second place I should be the 
last to use any knowledge to her disadvantage." 

"What, is it known already P*' cried Mrs. Carter agitated. 
" I knew that it must come to light sooner or later, that such a 
sinful thiuff could not long be mdden ; but so soon I That it 
should all be discovered so soon ! How did it happen P Who 
came here P" 

" Do not trouble yourself about detaib. You are too weak 
to bear much emotion. Sir Aubrey has been found, and he is in 
safe hands. Let that content you." 

*• And she — Lady Perriam P 

" Are you so deeply interested in her welfare P " 

" More deeply than you imagine," answered Mrs. Carter with 
a sigh. 

" You are related to her, perhaps. I saw a likeness in your 
face to hers the moment I entered this room." 

" We are related by the nearest tie that kindred owns. Lady 
Perriam is my daughter." 

** What 1^ 1 on are the mother of whom she spoke to me with 
such affection, for whose sake she married Sir Aubrey Perriam P " 

" Did she teU you that P " 

"Yes, she told mo that you were in abject poverty — almost 
starving — and that her only chance of helping yon was by a 
marriage with a rich man." 

" It was true— I was in abject poverty — ^and after her marriage 
abe lelieved me with axi occasional remittance. But I have 



SM TaJeen at the Flood. 

When she came back, followed by Mrs. Ledlamb, a timid-lookinff 
matron, who had been aU this time trying to make herself pre- 
sentable to the eye of strangers, with the assistance of a good 
many too obvious pins and a clean collar, Sir Anbrey and Mr. 
Bain had just driven off in the fly, and Edmund Standen was 
quie^- approaching the house. 

" Hjb's gone, mar," screamed Clara; " they've took him dean 
away." 

Mrs. Ledlamb began to cry, 

" Your father will say it's my fault," she moaned piteously ; 
" but what could I do ? I wasn't fit to be seen when they came, 
and was just getting myself a little bit tidy when you ran in to 
say they were going. And there's all our income gone at one 
swoop, for he was your pa's only patient after we lost voung 
Hicks, the grocer's son, and goodness knows when he 11 get 
another. I'm sure I tremble when I think what he'll say to me." 

" It wasn't your fault, mar. You couldn't have stoppled them 
if you had been dressed ever so. They'd have taken him awa^ 
W main force. There's one of the gentlemen coming this way. 
You'd bette^sk him what they meant by it." 

Mr. Standen, being timorously interrogated upon this point, 
would give no definite answer. 

"There has been a great wrong done," he said gravely. "I 
cannot tell what knowledge your husband may have had of that 
wrong, but I know that the first step towards setting it right 
was to get that poor old man out of this house." 

"I'm sure hes been treated kindly," whimpered Mrs. Led- 
lamb, " and if he says he isn't, he's a deceiving old thing. He's 
had every indulgence. Sago puddings that I've made for him 
with my own hands, and mutton broth, and all kinds of delica- 
cies. I'm sure he's been treated hke tiie family, and we've all 
of us borne with his worrying nonsense, when he said he was 
not himself but his brother. Clara has had the patience of an 
angel with him." 

Mr. Standen asked to see the nurse, Mrs. Carter, and after 
some difficulty, by means of a good deal of persuasion and the 
gift of a five-pound note to Mrs. Ledlamb, as consolation under 
the sudden loss of income, he obtained permission to go up to 
the attic where the sick woman was lying. 

" She's very bad," said Mrs. Ledlamb. " I sat up with her 
half last night, thinking she was going, but it's a harassing, 
deceiving complaint, and I daresay she'll go on lingering ever so 
long, a burden to herself and others." 

Mra. Carter, otherwise Mrs. Carford, lay on her narrow bed 
facing the casement, through, which the westering sun streamed 
with soft, yellow light. B\i© viaa \)tL^ ^crj ^Mv.\Qr«-A!QA i^aU 
ghosir-^r that Mrs. Oailet -WVio \i9A\i«ea. ^%«q. ^\» ^^cwwsi i 



Jfr. Ledtamh'B foHeni. 887 

•• Take tliose with yon and go." 

" Cannot I do anything for yon P Hare yon proper medicaJ 
attendance — good nnrsing P " 

" Yes, these people do all they can. But my doom is sealed 
Qo to her, yon may save her from despair." 



CHAPTEB LXV. 

*rr IS THE TALE WHICH AKGAT CONSCIENCE TELLS.** 

Edmund Standen put the roll of paper in his hreast-pocket, 
and took his leave of the sick woman, wondering at the mother's 
nnselfishness, which even on a death-bed made the thought of 
a daughter's peril paramount above all personal suffering. 

Anxious as he felt about Sylvia's fate, he stopped to appeal 
to Mrs. Ledlamb on behalf of the helpless invalid upstairs, 
volunteering to pay any charges that mi^ht be incurred in care- 
ful nnrsing, and to reward kindness by hberal donations. Mrs. 
Ledlamb, who was soft-hearted, wept, and promised to do her 
best. 

" We'll move her down into Mr. Perriam's room. It's better 
than where she is ; and she shall have every attention, shan't 
she, Clara P " said Mrs. Ledlamb, appealing to the sharp eleven- 
year-old dangh1;er, her eldest hope. 

" Yes, mar, I'm willing to do anything. She was ladylike 
and jpleasant, and gave no trouble." 

" Quite a superior person," said Mrs. Ledlamb. "Any one 
could see that." 

Edmund administered another five-pound note, as an earnest 
of future favours, and left the dreary Arbonr, to go back to 
London and to Willoughby-crescent. 

He had to walk back to Hatfield, through the unknown lanes^ 
m the deepening dusk, carrying a heavier heart than he had 
ever known yet ; for the pam of Sylvia's desertion two years 
ago seemed light, when looked bacK upon, in comparison with 
the anguish of knowing her to be the guilty creature she was. 

He anived at Willoughby-crescent late in the evening ; and 
here he found Mr. Carew in a wretched and uneasy state. The 
whole household was disorganized. Lady Perriam had gone, 
none knew whither. 

"What is to be doneP" asked Mr. Carew helplessly. •*! 
know nothing — have been kept in the dark — treated as a 
cipher." 

'' She has gone, knowine that shame and disgrace irere in- 
evitable if she remained," said Edmnnd, when the fkther haj 



888 Ikkdn at the Flood. 

^Bhed his fretful lamentings. " Perhaps it is better that H 
BHonld be so. Flight was the only escape possible to her. If 
she has but found a safe asylum, I am content. I, who have 
loved her so dearly." 

But then came the fDiought of a darker possibility. What if 
she had rushed out of that house, restless and despairing, to 
find the surest escape in death P 

Edmund Questioned Celine as to the manner of her mistress's 
departure. The girl could tell him nothing, except that Lady 
Perriam had gone, that she must have left tne house dressed in 
her weeds, and could have taken nothing with her except a 
small morocco bag, which was the only object Celine had missed 
from the dressing-room. 

This looked bc^, but Edmund did not despair. 

" She may have taken money in the bag, and mone^ will 
^>uy everytmng. Do you know if she had any money m the 
iouseP" 

" Yes, sir, I have seen a bundle of notes in her jewel case." 

" Bring me the jewel case." 

The case was brought. Edmund smashed the lock with a 
poker, and examined the case in Celine's presence. The money 
was gone, and the diamonds. Celine knew that both had been 
in the case on the previous night. 

"Thank God I" exclaimed Edmund, when he and Mr. Carew 
were alone. " She has not thought of making away with her- 
self. She would not have taken money and diamonds if she had 
any idea of suicide." 

" There's no fear of suicide," replied Mr. Carew, calmly. " It 
doesn't run in our family." 

There was nothing more to be done. She had escaped all in- 
terrogation; she had ample means of maintenance for some time 
to come ; she had done the best for herself. 

" I do not know that I could have advised anything better if I 
had been at her side,'* Edmund thought sadly. *' And now she and 
I are indeed parted ; she to be a nameless wanderer, I a desolate, 
broken-hearted man. My mother was too true a prophet when 
she told me that my love for Sylvia Carew was fataL* 

His mother. That name took his thoughts back to Heding* 
ham, to the home whose doors he had shut against himself. 
There lay the bitterest humiliation. To go back — ^to confess 
that he had wasted all the passion of his youth upon a worihlesa 
woman. 

"No, I will not call her worthless," he Mid. "Whatever 
her sin was, dhe did all for my sake. My lips shall not condemn 
her." 

He left Willoaghby-crescent, and went back to that dreariest 
cfall abodee for ue jqjeGted— hift hotel fiere»afler a brief and 



''It is the Tale wlieh angry Cameienee TeUsr 889 

tasteless meal — the first food he had eaten since eight o'clock 
in the morning — he drew the lamp near him, and opened Mrs. 
Carter's manuscript. 

It was nearly midnight ; the honse qniet, the servants at rest 
in their chambers in the Norman-Gothic roof, only the night- 
watchman on gaard below. Mr. Standen had no fear of inter- 
ruption in the pemsal of these closelj written pages; a reading 
that would doubtless be full of pain. 

MBS. CABFOBD's confession. 

I write these lines with the knowledge that my troubled life 
is rapidly drawing to its lonely close — write with the thought 
and fear of death before my eyes — write becauso I feel that it is 
my dutj to the living to leave behind me a clear and truthful 
confession of my sin ; even though by so doing I may bring sor- 
row and shame upon her for whom I sinned, and who is the sole 
object of my love and pity. 

1 believe that it is better for her peace - on earth and beyond 
earth — that the truth should be known. The first suffering will 
be lighter than the last — better for her that her wron^-doing 
should be revealed while justice may yet be done, while her 
victim still lives, and some atonement may be made, than later, 
vtiQu his life may have been shortened by her sin, and atonement 
may have become impossible. She will say, perhaps, that her 
mother's sole legacy is shame and grief K>r her ; out let her 
believe that her mother's last thoughts were full of tenderness 
for her, and that even in this act of confession her ultimate peace 
was the chief object of that unhappy mother's desire. 

When first I came to Perriam Place, as nurse and attendant 
to Sir Aubrey Perriam, the change in my mode of existence was 
so complete that it seemed to me like the beginning of a new 
life. From the deepest poverty, from the most sordid surround- 
ings, from the ceaseless struggle for daily bread, from a life 
whose present deprivations were darkened by the shadow of the 
future, which might brin^ even worse misery, I fou